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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings

The Spurs return from the Rodeo Road Trip to take on another team vying for a play-in berth.

San Antonio Spurs v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Silver and Black have returned to the AT&T Center for the first time in nearly a month after going a commendable 4-4 over the Rodeo Road Trip. They must now square off with the overhauled Sacramento Kings as they find themselves jockeying for the final Western Conference play-in spot.

The Kings were a whirlwind in February. After trading Tyrese Haliburton and fully committing to De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento is in the same place that they always are come March. As they sit outside the playoff picture, head coach Alvin Gentry and company seek to build momentum and potentially land the last play-in spot.

Despite a significant roster shuffle during the trade deadline, the Spurs are still virtually the same ball club they’ve been all season. From playing playoff contenders close until the fourth quarter to taking care of so-so squads that are at or under .500, San Antonio lands a favorable matchup on Thursday against one of the worst road teams in the NBA.

San Antonio Spurs (24-38) @ Sacramento Kings (23-40)

March 3, 2022 | 7:30 PM CT

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

Spurs Injuries: Romeo Langford (Questionable — Groin)

Kings Injuries: Terence Davis (Out — Wrist), Richaun Holmes (Questionable — Back)

What To Watch For:

  • Where’s this version of Lonnie Walker been? Fourth-year shooting guard Lonnie Walker IV has been one of the most unpredictable wildcards in recent Spurs history. Known for his outrageous athleticism and astounding flashes of off-the-dribble creation as well as inconsistency, Walker has been an entirely different player over the last six games. El Quatro has blossomed in his first opportunity as the sixth man, and he has averaged 20.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game on 51.6% shooting from the field. More than the numbers, his comfortability in San Antonio’s system and feel for the game look drastically improved. Lonnie has been everything we thought he could become as a sparkplug off the bench. If Walker can keep this up, he may be playing himself into a second contract with the organization that took him 18th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft.
  • How will the Spurs stop the Sabonis - Fox Pick and Roll? Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox and recently-acquired big-man Domantas Sabonis have the potential to be one of the best pick-and-roll duos in the NBA. Regardless of how you feel about the trade from a few weeks back, you can see why Sac-town fell in love with the thought of this tandem, so much so that they made it into reality. As it stands today, De’Aaron Fox ranks in the 65th-percentile among pick-and-roll ball-handlers in the NBA, while Domantas Sabonis ranks in the 74th-percentile as a roll-man. For the Spurs, stopping this potent pick-and-roll unit will be integral to the Silver and Black bringing home the dub. I’d keep a close eye on how Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl, and the reserves play the Kings to stop them from getting to their bread-and-butter in the pick-and-roll.
  • Can the Spurs take advantage of the 2nd-worst defense in the NBA coming off of a back-to-back? The Sacramento Kings rank 29th in Defensive Rating the NBA, and they are especially susceptible to giving up points in the paint and fastbreak points. What makes this matchup particularly favorable for the Spurs is the Kings are 4-8 this season when coming into game two of a back-to-back. The Spurs own the seventh-best fastbreak offense while also being the second-best team in points in the paint. Unless Pop decides to rest the bulk of his starters on Thursday night, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where the Spurs have a tough time scoring the rock. With the Kings all over the place on the defensive end, be sure to watch whether this Spurs squad can take advantage of what should be a convenient matchup for them, coming off of two days of rest.

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.