The Kings aren’t bad enough that losing this game will help them in the NBA draft, so it is one final opportunity for the Kings’ players to get their stats up. The Kings don’t know what will happen with the team, and if it will end up with owners who are willing to invest money in it.
This game, for many players, is a tryout for next year. Most importantly of all, this game could be the last game played in Sacramento so a win would end everything nicely.
Unless he wants to pursue a trade, Demarcus Cousins has one final chance to show ownership (possibly new ownership) that he’s the guy, and while they should bring in more side dishes, he’s the main course.
On the Clippers side, things are a little more complex. If the Denver Nuggets lose against the Phoenix Suns, and the Clippers beat the Kings, the Clippers win the third seed. If the Nuggets win, it still works out for the Clippers. If they win, and the Memphis Grizzlies win, the Clippers get home-court in the tie.
Vinny Del Negro will get a chance to observe this game since there won’t be a lot of coaching challenges. He really needs to limit his rotation. He’s playing the entire team and this game will be the clearest indication of who is worthy of playoff minutes. It’s beginning to show that the Clippers function on the simple fact that they’re more talented than most of the teams they’ve played.
In the playoffs, this won’t be the case.
Eric Bledsoe, Willie Green, Matt Barnes, Ryan Hollins, and Lamar Odom have all come to expected minutes but Del Negro needs to focus on strategy now. Does he want to play Lamar Odom, who is .476 at the free throw line and play without size, or go with DeAndre Jordan, who is .392 at the line?
Jordan is not great at the line, but he’s also not been tested playing full minutes in a long time. Maybe he’s just clutch and hasn’t had a chance to prove it. Dwight Howard beat Hack-A-Shaq. So did Shaquille O’Neal. Kinda. Why doesn’t this team have a system for dealing with their poor free throw-shooting center that doesn’t involve benching him after halftime?