October 11, 2018, 3:52 pm
The Kings are finally in the last stretch of the preseason, and while they can use all of the practice that they can get, the team is surely excited to start playing regular season games.
While it’s getting easy to see the light at the end of the preseason tunnel, Sacramento still has a difficult two-day stretch ahead. The team will complete their second back-to-back set of the preseason Friday night against Portland, but the focus now will be on the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz are one of the premier up-and-coming teams in the Western conference, a distinction they earned with a strong second-half last season. They have more than a few weapons offensively, but the strength of this team is truly their defense.
The Kings will need to be locked in offensively to have any success tonight. The Jazz don’t give up many easy baskets, so playing with pace and moving the ball will be key in this one. Below are a few of the key things to watch out for:
Stopping Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell established himself as one of the most promising young players in the NBA last season and he’ll be looking to take another big step forward this year. If the Kings can contain him tonight, that would be a great sign for the defense and would give the Kings a great shot to win.
De’Aaron Fox is likely going to be the primary defender on Mitchell, so it’ll be up to him to get stops. The rest of the team will need to provide help, but the key will be keeping out of the paint taking jump shots. If Fox can stay in front, it would make life very difficult for Utah on the offensive end.
Speaking of Fox, one of the other keys tonight will be seeing another big night from him. Fox couldn’t get much going in the game against Maccabi Haifa, so he could use a nice bounce back against a good defense.
His lack of production in that game shouldn’t be a concern, but it would be nice to see him get hot before the season officially starts. The Kings will need him to produce this season, so expect him to ramp up over the final two games of the preseason.
Dave Joerger mentioned after the team’s last game that fans can expect the rotation from that night to reflect the rotation used to start the season. While that gave fans a good outline of what to expect, there may be more changes on the way.
Any changes shouldn’t be big, but a few strong performances over the final two games could lead to a slight bump in minutes for those players. The outline for the rotation is complete, but some fine tuning should be expected.
Buddy Hield and Justin Jackson are likely the two biggest players to watch here. A strong finish for Hield could lead to a spot in the starting lineup, while Jackson will more be looking to solidify the minutes that he already has.