April 11, 2018, 11:55 am
Neither team will have much on the line Wednesday night when the Kings host the Rockets in the final game of the regular season, but fans saw Monday night in San Antonio that the Kings will be playing to win regardless.
These two last matched up in February, with the Rockets finishing on top 100-91, but the Kings were able to make things interesting and keep the game somewhat close. James Harden nearly finished with a triple-double, but he was just 7-for-19 overall and 5-for-15 from behind the 3-point line.
The Kings did a nice job against the Rockets defensively in that game, but they couldn’t put much together on the other end of the floor. The team finished the game 10-for-32 from behind the arc and got to the free throw line just eight times.
The key Wednesday night will be finding more efficient ways to score. Generating free throw attempts has been difficult for this team all season, but they do have the talent to be much more effective from behind the arc. If they can make a few more of those looks while taking around the same number of attempts, they should have a decent chance against the Rockets.
While the team did do well against Houston defensively in their last matchup, they aren’t likely to hold this team to 100 points again. Garrett Temple, who played over 30 minutes that night, spent a majority of his time on the court guarding either James Harden or Chris Paul. Temple has been leaned on defensively since joining the team, but the Kings won’t have that luxury this time around. De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic are most likely looking at their toughest defensive assignment of the season with Temple out.
Injuries to Frank Mason and Skal Labissiere will also make things tough for the Kings. Labissiere can be replaced relatively easily because of the Kings’ depth at power forward, but the team will once again need to rely on lineups without a point guard for long stretches, much like they did in San Antonio Monday night.
Overall the odds are stacked against the Kings, but a win against the team with the best record in the NBA would be a great way to finish the season. If the team can keep the Rockets’ offense in check, they should have a shot at the upset.
PG – De’Aaron Fox
SG – Bogdan Bogdanovic
SF – Justin Jackson
PF – JaKarr Sampson
C – Willie Cauley-Stein
Skal Labissiere (ankle) – OUT
Frank Mason (heel) – OUT
Garrett Temple (ankle) – OUT
Iman Shumpert (knee) – OUT
Harry Giles (knee) – OUT
HOW TO WATCH
When: 7:30 p.m. PST (10:30 ET)
Where: NBCS California