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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings

Can the Silver and Black keep things rolling against a shorthanded opponent?

Sacramento Kings v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The Spurs outlasted the streaking Utah Jazz behind a sensational crunch time performance from Dejounte Murray and a clutch acrobatic layup from Lonnie Walker IV as San Antonio picked up their most remarkable victory of the season. They will now have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on their momentum as they visit the shorthanded Kings.

After showing signs of respectability early in their schedule, Sacramento has descended into a familiar area of uncertainty. The Kings are not quite terrible enough to outright tank, but they are nowhere near good enough to ensure a playoff berth. COVID-19 has forced plenty of their rotational players to the sidelines, and this matchup could get out of hand.

San Antonio Spurs (11-17) @ Sacramento Kings (12-18)

December 19, 2021 | 5:00 PM CT

Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (Out — Ankle), Josh Primo (Out — On Assignment), Joe Wieskamp (Out — Two Way), Devontae Cacok (Out — Two Way)

Kings Injuries: Marvin Bagley III (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Terence Davis (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Davion Mitchell (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Louis King (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), De’Aaron Fox (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Alex Len (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Richaun Holmes (Game Time Decision — Eye)

What To Watch For

  • COVID-19 protocols have ravaged Sacramento’s roster over the last few days, forcing them to call upon the bottom of their increasingly thin depth chart in desperation so they can field enough players to avoid postponing games. Not only will the Kings be without guards De’Aaron Fox, Terence Davis, and Davion Mitchell. But interim head coach Alvin Gentry will also be unavailable less than a month after the organization fired Luke Walton for getting off to a 6-11 start in his third season at the helm. San Antonio will face a dysfunctional opponent that is down on its luck, which should make them a virtual shoo-in for a victory as they prepare for the second half of their four-game Western Conference road trip. Because the NBA is full of the most talented hoopers on the planet, the Spurs will still have to go out on the hardwood and execute their game plan. However, once the good guys get out to a lead, they should keep their foot on the gas pedal so the starters can enjoy an early exit and save their legs for a SEGABABA against the Los Angeles Clippers.
  • Dejounte Murray has slipped into a scoring slump since San Antonio fell to the Knicks a little over a week ago, averaging 12.8 points per game on ice-cold .388/.296/.636 shooting splits. The sixth-year guard hasn’t been able to manufacture efficient offense against a cluster of favorable opponents, which is unfortunate considering his backcourt partner in crime, Derrick White, has started hitting his stride over that same stretch. The Silver and Black have been trending in the right direction, and Derrick and Dejounte should have every opportunity to feast upon a shorthanded Sacramento squad. If the pairing can build some confidence on Sunday and turn that into a consistent one-two scoring punch, it could help propel this team to another level.
  • Although De’Aaron Fox is usually the engine of Sacramento’s offense, the lightning-quick guard won’t be able to suit up as he goes through COVID-19 protocols. Instead, the heap of the offensive responsibilities will fall upon second-year swingman Tyrese Haliburton. The Iowa State alumnus logged 21 points, six boards, and ten dimes on Friday, yet a Ja Morantless Memphis team still blew out the understaffed Kings. Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield are skilled scorers, and both can give San Antonio a scare if they fail to keep them in check. That said, Haliburton is the unmistakable head of the snake. Thankfully for the Spurs, they have more than enough perimeter stoppers to make Tyrese uncomfortable for 48 minutes. Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Devin Vassell, and Lonnie Walker IV took turns hounding Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley in what was arguably San Antonio’s most impressive victory of the season last time out. And they should have no trouble pestering the 21-year-old ballhandler.

For the Kings fans’ perspective, please 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.