With the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers both winning at a high clip, the margin of error for the playoff hopeful Sacramento Kings is all but gone. They hit the second leg of their four-game road trip Monday evening when they travel to Washington to face the struggling Wizards.
Sacramento is coming off a win at Madison Square Garden over the New York Knicks on Saturday morning. De'Aaron Fox posted 30 points and eight assists and Buddy Hield shook off a horrible start to help push the Kings over the top.
Washington has dropped two straight, including an overtime thriller to the Timberwolves. They are just 3-7 over their previous 10 games and they are limping towards the finish line. They still have plenty of veteran talent, but this season has not gone as planned for team that has made the playoffs in four of the previous five seasons.
Kings Pregame Live on NBC Sports California begins at 3:30 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 4:00 p.m. All coverage can be seen on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.
Following the game the Kings have a short respite in the schedule before playing a back-to-back on Thursday and Friday against the Celtics and 76ers. They'll return home on March 17 to kick off a four-game homestand beginning with the Bulls.
Wizards by 1.5
PG De'Aaron Fox
SG Buddy Hield
SF Bogdan Bogdanovic
PF Harrison Barnes
C Willie Cauley-Stein
PG Tomas Santoransky
SG Bradley Beal
SF Trevor Ariza
PF Jeff Green
C Bobby Portis
PF Marvin Bagley III (knee) out.
PG John Wall (Achilles) out, C Dwight Howard (back) out.
Dave Joerger's team is mostly healthy heading into the home stretch. He continues to mix and match his rotations as he searches for the right combinations after the deadline roster shakeup. Joerger has increased the minutes load for his starting backcourt of Fox and Hield, as well as relied heavily on Barnes since his acquisition.
Marvin Bagley continues to get closer to a return. The 19-year-old power forward is cleared for basketball duties, but will miss at least the Wizards game as he recovers from a knee sprain. With two days off before the Kings play the Celtics on Thursday, the team will have a chance to practice and test Bagley's readiness.
With Bagley out, Joerger has turned back to Nemanja Bjelica for major minutes. Over the last four games, Bjelica has helped stabilize the second unit. While he hasn't posted big scoring numbers, the veteran has stuffed the stat sheet and ran a combined plus-35 over the stretch.
One of the bigger disappointments of the season, Washington made major changes at the deadline. After losing Wall for the season, the team jettisoned Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter and have a completely different look than when these two teams faced off in the first month of the season.
The Wizards rank sixth in the league in points per game at 114.5, but they are 29th in points allowed at 117.2. They are 28th out of 30 teams in defensive rating and they rank in the bottom five in the league in both 3-point percentage and rebounding.