Excitement for the NBA restart has quickly faded into oblivion as the Sacramento Kings lost their first two games to arguably their easiest opponents on their eight game schedule.
The Kings needed to win these first two games and make a statement among the teams fighting for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Instead, they dropped both in disappointing fashion.
The Kings let a career-high 39 point performance from De’Aaron Fox go to waste in their first game back against the Spurs. An early 19-0 run by San Antonio did not help Sacramento’s cause and they ended up losing the game by nine in what was once a close game in the second half.
Yesterday, the Kings had a chance to redeem themselves against a low-seeded playoff team in the Eastern conference, the Orlando Magic.
This game didn’t even come close to being a tight ball game as the Magic rolled past the Kings with ease, even holding a lead at one point near 40 points.
Sacramento’s play has ultimately been underwhelming and disheartening.
Some of the bigger issues I have seen in these first two games were constant concerns before the NBA suspension: the team starts off too slow, poor defense, and a manic Buddy Hield who will shoot from about anywhere on the floor if the ball lands in his hands.
So far in the restart, the Magic and the Spurs shot a combined 46% from three (29/63) and seemed to effortlessly sink any shot from downtown. On top of poor three-fense, both teams scored 40 points in the first quarter while gaining a double digit lead over the Kings.
An issue for the Kings for awhile now is the fact that they either come out of the gate slow or come out of halftime unenergized. This sluggish tendency forces them to either claw their way back into games, or give up large leads.
Slow starts have been an issue in the first two games thus far, and if the Kings really want to step their game up to a playoff contending level, solid defense and overall play must be maintained throughout all four quarters of basketball.
Buddy Hield has been Buddy bricks in the first two games, and his poor play off the bench is hurting the Kings’ chances. Buddy is 7/26 from the floor so far and 3/15 from three point range. You can’t get mad at his aggressiveness and his desire to be great, but Walton needs to be the adult here and tell his backup shooting guard to stop taking so many difficult shots.
If Hield stuck to predominantly being a catch and shoot type player opposed to the “create your own shot” type player he wants to be, his number of shots each game would be down, but his stat line would be up.
Buddy forces way too many shots, and whether it is a good or terrible look, he’s going to bite. Until he matures, he will only be detrimental to Sacramento’s efforts.
Of course there are other factors that are due to this whacky NBA season such as limited practice for some players due to injury or illness before the restart began. But I do see the three issues mentioned above to be critical to the Kings’ chances since they are issues that preexist the season’s suspension.
There are still six games left, but they only get harder from here. Sacramento really hurt their playoff odds by losing their first two games, and with San Antonio and Portland moving past the Kings towards the eighth seeded Grizzlies, hope is fleeting.