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Nets hope to end losing streak in Sacramento

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Sacramento Kings v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

UGH. That’s all I have to say about that loss to the Clippers. The Nets were this close to stealing a win in Los Angeles and Lou Williams just absolutely ruined it. I’ll never forgive him. It wasn’t even a good shot! Whatever. Brooklyn is now 0-3 on the West Coast Trip with three more games before they head back to Philadelphia to cap it all off. The Nets are still holding onto a playoff spot for now but they would for sure like to grab a win or two before they really find themselves in hot water. The Sacramento Kings, Brooklyns next opponent, was in the playoff hunt all season long until a recent cold stretch knocked them out of the running. They mirror the Nets in their young and surprisingly good team, and if they’d been in the East they’d be enjoying much more success as a playoff team. They’re still at least a year away at this point, but they won’t be easy to beat. This will also be a matchup between two teams who at some point believe in Thomas Robinson. Yikes. Let’s get into it.

Where to Follow the Game

YES and WFAN at 10pm, ET. Late one.

Injuries

Allen Crabbe (knee) is out. Dzanan Musa is with Long Island

The Kings are healthy.

The Game

There are bright spots to that Clippers loss, I swear. D’Angelo Russell looked like his All Star self again, scoring 32 points, dishing out 10 assists, and producing a couple of highlight reel plays. The Kings employ De’Aaron Fox, another young budding star who plays point, and although the two play different styles, it’s going to make for a fun matchup. Fox is fast as hell and can start and stop on a dime, but he’s controlled in his chaotic movement and dishes out assists at a 7.2 per game clip and has surprisingly effective shooting splits of 46/37/71. It’s like he watched Russell Westbrook play and thought “Oh I could just do that thing where he runs really fast and controls the offense but not shoot as much so I don’t miss a bunch of dumb shots, cool” which has seemed to really work out for him in year two.

Another bright spot against the Clippers was DeMarre Carroll, who was playing like he knew how important getting that win was. He dove for every loose ball, played high-energy defense the whole game, got out ahead on seemingly every fastbreak, and finished the game with 22 points. We’re all aware of the Nets lack of a true star forward, with it being basically their only roster weakness, but when DeMarre plays like that it makes it a lot easier to forget we don’t have a Kawhi or Durant. Yet. Carrolls counterpart in this next matchup will be the newly acquired Harrison Barnes, who has been slotted into the Kings starting lineup after coming over from the Mavericks. He’s the kind of player who can play pretty much anywhere as long as there are plays for him to follow and open shots for him to take. Barnes can just kind of run out to the corner on any Fox fastbreak and wait to hit a corner three. He’ll play some defense. He’ll set some screens. He isn’t a star but he is a good basketball player.

One of Sacramento’s downfalls this season has been their defense. They allow 114.9 points per game, the fifth worst mark in the league. They make up for it by scoring 114 points per game, but 114 is less than 114.9 by .9 so that is why they aren’t a playoff team. Basically. Some of their worst defenders are on the wings, with culprits like Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic. They aren’t horrid, but they also aren’t particularly great defenders and the way the Kings play, with a lot of fast paces run and gun offense, they are set up to allow a decent amount of points going the other way. It’s an offense-first team. Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie will be issues for the Kings in this one. LeVert looked especially potent in the first half against the Clippers, and if he can continue playing with that kind of energy and bounce the Nets will have a much easier time finding a win in California.

Believe it or not, the next two matchups are probably the easiest games left in the season for Brooklyn. Until the final game of the season when the Nets play the Heat, the Kings and Lakers are the only two current non-playoff teams we’ll see. There are 10 games left, and most of them come against some of the best teams in the league. This means that the Kings and Lakers games are extra important as the Nets look to solidify their spot in the playoffs and maybe even take back that six seed they held onto for such a long time.

Player to Watch

Buddy Hield leads this team in scoring with 20.9 points per game and has turned into one of the better young wings in the league. He can play within a contained offense but if he needs to create he knows how to make space for himself, and he’s shooting 46/43/87 this season on a pretty steady diet of takes, which makes his efficient shooting numbers even more impressive. It’s still somehow only year three for Buddy, but he’s already 26 which actually makes his quick progression make a lot of sense. He’s much more physically mature already than some other year three players like Brandon Ingram, who’s still just 21. Hield and Fox being this good this soon allows the Kings to go out and spend some money in an effort to win now, like with the Harrison Barnes trade or possibly with some additions this summer. We’ll see. Or now they’re young, fun, and unfortunately not a playoff team.

Playoff Watch

Pistons lost to the Cavaliers and the Heat beat the Thunder on Monday night. So going into the Kings game, the Nets are in seventh, a game behind Detroit and a game ahead of the Heat. The Nets are the only one of the three teams in action Tuesday.

From The Vault

They’re not that bad!

Enjoy.

For a different perspective, head on over to Sactown Royalty, our Kings sister site on SB Nation.