Last time the Spurs came away with an upset win over a good team, they followed it up with an embarrassing dud against a lesser team. Coming off their slightly controversial, nearly unthinkable, and most definitely exciting 2OT comeback win over the Houston Rockets and 2 days of rest at home, they’ll try to avoid another letdown tonight against an 8-12 Sacramento Kings team that is coming off back to back losses and has suffered injuries to key players.
Sacramento Kings (8-12) vs. San Antonio Spurs (8-14)
December 6, 2019: 7:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: LaMarcus Aldridge (thigh — questionable)
Kings Injuries: De’Aaron Fox (ankle — OUT), Marvin Bagley III (thumb — OUT), Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee — day to day)
Lonnie Walker took over for Marco Belinelli against the Rockets, exploded for a career-high 28 points, and helped lead the team to a victory. Now what?
Fans have been clamoring for the uber-athletic 2nd year guard out of the University of Miami to soak up the minutes that were going to struggling veteran Marco Belinelli and on Tuesday night, they finally got their wish and then some. Lonnie Walker IV received early minutes during the Rockets game and played solid basketball for 3 quarters before finally taking advantage of a lackadaisical Houston defense and bringing San Antonio back from a 19-point 4th quarter deficit.
As great as he was, it is important to remember that Walker is still a young player. He almost definitely earned more playing time going forward and continued to say the right things after the game, but what can we expect on a nightly basis from Walker? It is unreasonable to expect him to flat-out carry this team for long stretches on a nightly basis at this stage in his development, but if he can continue to play defense the way he did against Houston while remaining aggressive on the offensive side of the ball, there’s no doubt that Walker can be a major contributor to this team and helping them turn things around.
Just don’t expect him to have to necessarily score tons of points every night as proof that he’s having an impact.
Will injuries suppress what was speculated to be a breakout year for the Kings?
After a 39-43 campaign last season, Sacramento was pegged as a team on the rise and as such, began the season with hopes of competing for a playoff spot. Through the first month or so of the season, they find themselves in the same situation record-wise as the Spurs, but with injury concerns to key players. They’re missing third year point guard De’Aaron Fox, who was part of the Team USA tryouts this past summer alongside Derrick White. Fox was expected to make a sizable leap after breaking out a bit in his 2nd season, however three weeks ago, he sustained a left ankle injury during practice. Second year big man Marvin Bagley III has also missed all but a single game this year with a thumb injury, while forward Bogdan Bogdanovic has struggled with lower leg injuries the last couple of games.
Over at SacTownRoyalty, writer Tim Maxwell broke down exactly how the injuries have prevented the Kings from playing the style of basketball head coach Luke Walton envisioned them playing in the summer:
“That playbook has been thrown out the window . . . When Marvin Bagley broke his thumb in the opening game of the season, the team lost their only post threat, their springiest big man, and their most adept foul-drawer. A four-pronged attack became three: still manageable, but not nearly as malleable . . . then De’Aaron Fox’s severe ankle sprain stripped the Kings of their best playmaker and one of their few contributors who could work his way into the teeth of the defense and produce positive results . . . When Fox went down, Bogdan Bogdanovic stepped up in a big way. He averaged 19.5 points and 8 assists in a four game stretch that saw the Kings win three of four contests, and his skillset could mostly replicate that of De’Aaron’s. And then Bogdanovic went down, his injury and hobbled play coinciding precisely with Sacramento’s recent poor three-point shooting and 2-5 record.”
Sacramento still boasts 5th year vet Buddy Hield, a career 41% 3-point shooter who can get hot in a hurry if left unguarded and will require constant attention. Hield averaged 19 points a game on 47% (!!!) shooting from beyond the arc in 3 contests against San Antonio last season. The Spurs will have to bring the defensive intensity they brought for their win over the Clippers and for the 4th quarter and overtime periods in the Rockets game in order to avoid being upset against a team that has so many injuries to key personnel.
The Spurs can start their first win streak since October tonight. Will they?
With a young, injury-ravaged Kings team in the building tonight and the currently 5-15 Cleveland Cavaliers coming to town next Thursday, the Spurs will have a chance tonight to start their first win streak in more than a month. San Antonio has not won consecutive games since October, when they started the season 3-0. They had two 2-game losing streaks and an 8-game losing streak to go with just 4 wins during a jam-packed November.
The Spurs are just a game back in the win column from the 8th seeded Phoenix Suns, a team they will also play this month. If the team is going to force their way into the playoffs for a record-breaking 23rd consecutive season, they’ll need to take advantage of a lighter December schedule that is heavy on home games. If they play how they did against Houston outside of that 3rd quarter where they got down by as many 22 points, San Antonio should have more than enough to beat the Kings before settling into a 5-day break between their next game.
Vegas odds: Spurs by 4
For the Kings fans’ perspective, visit SacTown Royalty.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed if you don’t have a radio around.