The Kings have secured home court and their first playoff berth in almost two decades.
As former Sacramento Kings guard Vince Carter once said… It’s over. The inevitable has finally happened, and the longest active playoff drought in American sports – one that spanned four presidencies and eight Fast and Furious films — has officially ended.
Sacramento has officially clinched a playoff berth with their 120-80 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
— J White (@Jordan_white13) March 30, 2023
After having the ability to clinch every day since Sunday, the win Sacramento needed ultimately came on the road against a tanking Blazers squad that is in a very rough place. With this win, the Kings have also clinched a top-four seed in the West and secured home-court advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.
In a season where the team was projected by some to win fewer than 35 games, had a new coaching staff and a new roster that was highly criticized, all while playing in the toughest division in the NBA, the Kings have been able to prove literally everyone wrong while answering any and all preseason questions.
Projected win total? — Vastly exceeded
Was Mike Brown? — He’s the probable Coach of the Year
Is De’Aaron Fox worth building around? — Yes, the All-Star and likely Clutch Player of the Year has proven himself.
Was the Domantas Sabonis for Tyrese Haliburton trade worth it? — Yes
Was Keegan Murray the right pick? — Yes
Is Monte McNair the right person for the job? — He is arguably Executive of the Year, and owner of a fresh, new extension
Playoff drought — Ended
Mike Brown is asked about what it would mean to him to earn NBA’s Coach of the Year in his first season with Sacramento. In typical Mike Brown fashion, credits those around him and says it would be celebrated more by the city and the Kings organization. pic.twitter.com/vSlmNuxREn
— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) March 26, 2023
After being wrong about everything else, the national media has now come up with a new narrative for the Kings to prove wrong. They think the Kings are a “mark” for veteran teams to aim for in the first round.
Brian Windhorst this morning on ESPN talking about the Sacramento Kings: “The Kings are the mark. The Kings are stuck in the No. 3 seed, that’s where they’re going to finish. The Kings are the mark. All of these teams (going for No. 6) smell weakness, not only because they… pic.twitter.com/KUBbuUXkBM
— Cameron Salerno (@cameronsalerno1) March 29, 2023
Here are three keys to the Kings to make all that talk look just as foolish as the preseason doubts above and go on a long playoff run.
Playing their brand of basketball
This team is historically good on offense with the best offensive rating of all time (currently at 119.6). The defense, however, is bad, and I don’t see them magically turning it around come the middle of April.
Now, I’m not saying they should stop trying to play well on defense, but I don’t think it would be a bad idea for the Kings to summon their inner Rockets James Harden and just be so good on offense that the opposition simply can’t keep up.
Kings vs. Clippers was an unbelievable basketball game
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 25, 2023
If we look back a couple months to the legendary Clippers game where both teams scored over 170, the Kings’ defense made zero impact no matter how well they guarded their man.
So what did they do? Turn up the heat and say we can score faster and more efficiently than the Clippers. If the Kings do end up facing the Golden State Warriors in round one, they will have to do the same. Be relentless on offense from the jump and not let up for 48 minutes. No team in the league can keep up with them when their offense is clicking.
Trust Mike Brown
The biggest knock on this team is the lack of postseason experience. Aside from Kevin Huerter and Harrison Barnes, this roster has not seen valuable postseason minutes. However, the coaching staff has. Especially Mike Brown, who has been to the NBA Finals once as a head coach and five times as an assistant coach, winning three times.
His impact on how this team performs is invaluable. The man truly cares about his players and will make sure they learn from their mistakes, even if that means doing drills during a timeout. He is a true student of the game and has increased the basketball IQ of every player on the roster. They play selflessly and with a lot of heart, a scary sight for any opponent.
Mike Brown calls a timeout and tells Terence Davis exactly where he messed up defensively. pic.twitter.com/I4ANZBpph5
— Tony Xypteras (@TonyXypteras) November 29, 2022
One of the most important characteristics Brown has instilled in his team is grit. This team does not give up even when the game is seemingly over. If they bring this mentality to the playoffs and trust that Brown and his staff can guide them to the mountain top their success will not end in the first round.
Treat every possession like it’s crunch time
Like I stated above, this team is gritty and plays at a higher level when the game is on the line. Everyone knows that crunch time is Foxy time on offense. But as a unit, their defense is exponentially better in those same minutes. They lock in during the game’s most crucial moments.
What’s interesting about the playoffs is that every moment is crunch-time. Whatever energy and skill the Kings have been able to summon during the fourth quarter throughout the season, they need to bring out at tip-off of every single game. I know it would be very off brand of them to do this, but this season as a whole has been off-brand for the Kings.
Why stop proving people wrong now? Let’s light the beam all the way through June.
Leave a Reply