On Feb. 10, the Sacramento Kings boasted a 30-26 record, which was their most games over .500 since Nov. 7, 2014. Interestingly enough, both instances occured after victories over the Phoenix Suns. Since then, the Kings have run into a gauntlet, facing 6 likely playoff teams (including conference leaders in Golden State and Milwaukee).
They now stand at 33-32 and 4 games behind the Clippers for the final spot in the Western Conference Playoffs. Sacramento last made the postseason in 2005-06 and is running out of time to do something about it.
On the bright side, head coach Dave Joerger has a chance at guiding Sacramento above .500 for the first time since that 2005-06 campaign. Don’t expect this young and hungry franchise to settle until the last game on April 10.
The Kings might as well be princes, as their top-6 scorers are all 26 years old or less. Guard Buddy Hield leads the way with 21 points per game and 43.8 percent shooting from deep. With center Marvin Bagley resuming basketball activities this past weekend, he’ll soon continue to team up with Willie Cauley-Stein to form a formidable and young interior duo.
Tonight’s game is a step down in competition, making it even more of an absolute must-win. The Kings travel to the nation’s capital to face the Wizards (7 p.m. EST, NBS Sports Local). Let’s take a look at Sacramento’s playoff chances, most likely seeding and remaining schedule.
Kings Playoff Chances & Potential Seeds
Bagley’s absence has contributed to losing 6 of the last 9 games, with the only wins coming twice against the lowly Knicks and once at Oklahoma City. According to Playoff Status, Sacramento possesses an 8 percent chance of making the postseason. That splits up into a 6 percent chance at the 8-seed and a 2 percent chance at the 7-seed.
Those chances have plummeted over the last month. According to Scout back on Feb. 6, the playoff chances were at 33 percent. ESPN’s BPI is even less generous, giving the Kings just over 1 percent odds.
Tonight’s game is absolutely critical for Sacramento per Playoff Status. A Wizards upset plummets the postseason chances to just 5 percent, including a paltry 1 percent at the 7-seed. A win boosts the overall chances to 11 percent.
Most Important Games Down the Road for the Kings
Fortunately for the Kings, they hold the third-easiest remaining schedule out of Western Conference teams according to Playoff Status. That consists of 9 games against teams currently under .500, including 1 each versus the Bulls, Suns, Cavaliers and the tanking Lakers.
Team Rankings pegs their final record at 41-41, or 40-42. With the projections currently against them, the Kings need to do 2 things: steal wins in more difficult games and limit losses to the dregs of their remaining slate.
4 games fall into the difficult but attainable category: tonight against Washington, March 24 at the Lakers, March 26 at Dallas and March 28 at New Orleans. Team Rankings gives Sacramento 40 percent chances or lower at winning in each of these contests. April 2 at Golden One Center against Houston is another (44 percent win probability).
They have 5 home games with a 61 percent chance or more of leaving with a win. These games are against Dallas, Cleveland, Phoenix, Chicago and Brooklyn.
The Kings are solid at home, sporting a 20-14 record on the season.