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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings

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Can the Silver and Black build some momentum as they hit the halfway point of their nine-game homestand?

Sacramento Kings v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Kim Klement - Pool/Getty Images

The Spurs finally snapped their season-high four-game losing streak after defeating the new-look Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. And San Antonio must now seize the opportunity to capitalize on a highly winnable stretch of their nine-game homestand that includes just one matchup with a team owning a winning record. This stretch begins with a two-game miniseries versus the eleventh-place Kings, but don’t pencil in any victories yet.

De’Aaron Fox is playing like a genuine superstar since being snubbed of his first career All-Star appearance, and Sacramento comes to the AT&T Center on a season-high four-game winning streak. Luke Walton has his ball-club in synch for the first time in what feels like months, and a supporting cast of Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes, Tyrese Haliburton, and Delon Wright has the potential to detonate on the Silver and Black.

San Antonio Spurs (23-20) vs. Sacramento Kings (21-25)

March 29, 2021 | 7:30 PM CT

Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Keita Bates-Diop (Out - Hamstring), Lonnie Walker IV (Out — Wrist), Devin Vassell (Ankle — Probable)

Kings Injuries: Marvin Bagley (Out — Hand), Jahmi’us Ramsey (Day-to-Day — Hamstring), Hassan Whiteside (Questionable — Knee)

What to Watch For

  • De’Aaron Fox has looked like a borderline MVP candidate as of late, and the Kings are 7-3 since returning from the All-Star break. The lightning-quick point guard has averaged 31.1 points per game on 54.5% shooting from the field over his last ten appearances, and there’s no question Fox is the driving force behind Sacramento’s improved play. The 23-year-old floor general dropped a then-career-high 39 points last time he faced the Spurs, and Derrick White was the only player capable of slowing down the speedy facilitator. While the Colorado alumnus should receive plenty of possessions against Fox, Dejounte Murray will likely split a bulk of the defensive responsibilities.
  • Shams Charania reported Sunday that the Spurs released trade deadline acquisition Marquese Chriss in an attempt to make room for the signing of the recently bought-out Gorgui Dieng. And although San Antonio has yet to announce the latter in any official capacity, this move makes sense for a team in need of spacing that possesses only two genuine centers on their roster. Dieng is an immediate upgrade over Drew Eubanks as a floor spacer, and the only concern is how effective he can be as a defender. There’s a reason the 31-year-old big man fell out of the Memphis rotation this season, and dwindling mobility could prove detrimental. Regardless, Dieng could get an opportunity to prove himself versus the Kings if he joins the organization in time, so keep an eye out for how he performs in his potential Silver and Black debut.
  • Tyrese Haliburton has been nothing short of spectacular in his rookie go-round with Sacramento. Some draft pundits were skeptical when the Kings took a point guard in the lottery with their franchise player already occupying that position. Four months later, and there’s no doubt General Manager Monte McNair and the rest of the front office executives got this pick 100% correct. Haliburton is averaging 15.9 points per game on 52/47/93 shooting splits since head coach Luke Walton inserted him into the starting lineup on March 17. And his case for Rookie of the Year has grown exponentially with frontrunner LaMelo Ball sidelined for most of what remains of Charlotte’s schedule. Though Spurs fans haven’t complained much about PATFO drafting Devin Vassell before the Iowa State product, they shouldn’t as long San Antonio’s lottery selection continues to leave a lasting impact for a Western Conference playoff hopeful.
  • The Silver and Black were on a season-high four-game losing streak before blowing out the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. And while resounding victories usually coincide with at least one impressive individual performance, San Antonio recaptured their form behind team-first basketball. Seven players, including all of their starters, scored in double digits, and that same septet each a positive box plus-minus. This offensive renaissance began with exceptional ball-movement and resulted in 29 assists and their highest single-game field goal percentage (54.1%) in nearly a month. Sacramento owns the worst defensive rating (117.6) in the NBA this season, and the Spurs should take advantage of a lackluster group of stoppers to gain some much-needed chemistry and momentum before they head out on a five-game road trip in early April.
  • The Kings shoot the fourth-highest field goal percentage (67.5%) from the restricted area, and the Spurs hold their opponents to the fourth-lowest field goal percentage (61.3%) from that zone. Something will have to give in this meeting, and San Antonio will need Jakob Poeltl, Drew Eubanks, and possibly Gorgui Dieng to protect the paint for 48 minutes if they want to avoid a loss and a tiny tumble to eight-place in the Western Conference standings. Richaun Holmes, Harrison Barnes, and De’Aaron Fox are the primary catalysts behind Sacramento finishing so strong around the rim, and each player attacks the basket in an entirely different way.
  • This last point isn’t particularly consequential, though it’s undoubtedly fascinating that ten former Austin Spurs could potentially participate in Monday’s matchup. And that number could have been as high as eleven had the Kings not traded Cory Joseph to the Detroit Pistons a few days ago. Familiar face Chimezie Metu could conceivably find minutes for Sacramento as Marvin Bagley III remains sidelined. And flex-assignee Robert Woodard II might even get into the game if it gets out of hand for either side. With San Antonio signing Cam Reynolds to a ten-day contract last Friday, there’s an ever-so-infinitesimal chance Cam, Tre Jones, Luka Samanic, Quinndary Weatherspoon, and Woodard share the court on Monday.

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.