Three issues to search for because the Celtics face the Kings
Those that observe the NBA religiously are effectively conscious that pleasure in Sacramento is the best its been because the Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Peja Stojaković, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac days within the early 2000s.
Along with being a wonderful crew to play with on NBA Dwell 2004, these Kings additionally had a definite swagger about them.
For individuals who observe the NBA casually – and begin watching extra carefully within the spring yearly – imagine it or not, the 2022-23 Kings have lots of those self same qualities.
Sacramento is 43-28, has received seven of 10 and finds itself in third place in a loaded Western Convention. The Celtics, in the meantime, are 49-23 and sit in second place within the East, however they’ve received simply 5 of 10. They’ll meet Tuesday night time at 10 p.m. EST.
The Celtics are nonetheless the very best crew within the NBA after they play to their potential, however that’s been taking place much less and fewer in latest weeks. Can they piece collectively a powerful exhibiting in a troublesome setting and pull out a key street win?
Many followers received’t study the consequence till the morning, however regardless, listed below are three issues to search for in an enormous sport for each groups.
There are main seeding implications
It’s virtually playoff time, of us. The Celtics solely have 10 extra regular-season video games, and each sport issues in the intervening time.
Boston sits a half sport above Philadelphia. The 76ers have received eight of 10 and are constantly gaining on the Celtics. The Celtics maintain the tiebreaker, which might come in useful, however it is a massive sport as they attempt to keep within the No. 2 spot.
Curiously, every of the NBA’s final two champions have entered the playoffs because the 3-seed. Earlier than that, it hadn’t occurred since 2011, when the Mavericks pieced collectively a magical run.
A hypothetical path of Miami, Philadelphia and Milwaukee to get to the Finals is difficult sufficient. The Celtics can’t afford to harm their probabilities much more by letting this skid linger. That begins Tuesday night time.
They’ll have some assist from a well-recognized supply
Celtics followers can breathe a bit of extra simply understanding that Robert Williams is again within the lineup.
This may present a glimpse into how he appears to be like following a hamstring damage that saved him out eight video games. Whereas seeding is vital, well being is much more vital, so it will be smart for head coach Joe Mazzulla to play Williams, say, 15-20 minutes, till he completely has to play extra.
#NEBHInjuryReport for tomorrow vs Sacramento:
Danilo Gallinari (left knee ACL restore) – OUT
Payton Pritchard (left heel ache) – OUT
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 20, 2023
Maintaining him contemporary and minimizing the probabilities he will get damage are each vital.
Blake Griffin has performed extra in Williams’ absence, so it will likely be fascinating to see how his function modifications, if in any respect, with Williams again. In fact there’s Grant Williams, too, who has had an eventful few weeks (to say the least). How will Rob’s return have an effect on Grant’s minutes, if in any respect?
The Kings have loads of playmakers
Within the first assembly between the groups – a 122-104 win for Boston again in late November, – the Celtics held the Kings to 41.4 % from the sphere and 25 % from 3-point vary.
Rookie Keegan Murray was 1-for-8 and scored simply three factors. De’Aaron Fox shot 6-for-17, Sacramento turned it over 18 occasions and no Kings starters completed with a constructive plus-minus.
This crew has improved considerably over the course of the season, and it wouldn’t be smart to imagine they’ll shoot and play as poorly.
Fox (25.9 factors per sport) is a troublesome matchup for the Celtics (or anybody, for that matter), largely due to his supreme pace. Marcus Sensible, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon can oftentimes collectively put on guards down, however shifty, attack-minded gamers reminiscent of Donovan Mitchell and Fox have the potential to offer them suits.
Domantas Sabonis (19.1 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 7.2 APG) can be a troublesome matchup. He’s firmly established himself as probably the most versatile gamers within the league.
Do the Celtics put Jayson Tatum on him? Al Horford? Grant Williams? There is not actually an apparent selection. Don’t be shocked if Sabonis has his approach.
Murray, who scored 22 factors Monday night time, is beginning hit his stride. If the Celtics place further emphasis on attempting to cease Fox and Sabonis, he may gain advantage.
The Celtics are going to need to earn this one. In the event that they do, it may very well be one in all their higher wins in latest reminiscence and assist them regain their mojo.
With Keegan Murray’s six 3-pointers, together with 5 made within the third quarter, he’s at present fourth (172) on the NBA’s all-time single-season 3-point rookie leaders checklist pic.twitter.com/cpXPQiaHUx
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) March 21, 2023