SACRAMENTO -- With just seven games remaining on the 2017-18 schedule, the Sacramento Kings host the Indiana Pacers Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center.
Protesters have interrupted the arrival of paying customers in two of the team's previous three games, but the Kings have worked with the Mayor, the Sacramento Police Department and local community leaders to help provide a safe environment for fans hoping to watch the game. Fencing is already up around the arena and a heavy police presence is expected.
Indiana is firmly planted in the Eastern Conference playoff race. They trail the 76ers by a half game for the four seed and the Cleveland Cavaliers by just a game for the third spot. Six players average double-figure scoring for Indy, including a team-high 23.2 from breakout All-Star Victor Oladipo.
Pacers by 8
MATCHUP TO WATCH
De'Aaron Fox vs. Darren Collison -- Fox is struggling down the stretch, but each game is another chance to get better. He's holding down the point guard position that Collison held last season in Sacramento. In his first year back in Indiana, Collison is leading the league in 3-point percentage and posting similar numbers to what he did with the Kings.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 24-51, fourth place in Pacific
Pacers: 44-31, second place in Central
Kings: SG/SF Garrett Temple (sprained left ankle) out, SF/SG Iman Shumpert (knee rehab/plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.
Pacers: PF Trevor Booker (right ankle) status unknown.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Focus on Hoops -- The last two weeks in Sacramento have been chaotic, to say the least. The Kings played in front of 2,500 against Atlanta and just 4,000 fans Tuesday against the Mavericks due to protesters locking down the building. It's difficult, but the team must turn all of their attention to the Indiana Pacers.
Slow Oladipo -- The 25-year-old guard is having a breakout season for the Pacers. Bogdan Bogdanovic will get the start, but Buddy Hield will need to step up as well. The Pacers have plenty of weapons, but Oladipo is the key to their offense.
Play Spoiler-- Dave Joerger wasn't happy with his team's effort against Dallas. He turned to the youth of the team for much of the night and they couldn't match the intensity of a 23-win Mavs team. The Kings need to show up against a quality Pacers team that is fighting for playoff positioning.
The Pacers have won three straight against the Kings, including a 101-83 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Halloween night. Indiana holds a 47-39 lead over the Kings all-time and a 36-26 advantage during the Sacramento-era.