Some of the NBA’s biggest stars returned to action Wednesday while the Kings enjoyed a much-needed day off after playing five games in seven nights.
Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic, Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns were back in uniform after missing time due to injuries and other issues.
Meanwhile, reports indicated Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James (foot) would be reevaluated Thursday, Phoenix Suns star Kevin Durant (ankle) will be reevaluated in one week and Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George (knee) will miss at least two to three weeks with a sprained knee.
The Kings (43-29) are third in the Western Conference with 10 games remaining. They have a five-game lead over No. 4 Phoenix as they prepare to face the Suns (38-34) on Friday at Golden 1 Center.
The Kings are all but assured of making the playoffs for the first time since 2006 with a strong likelihood of securing homecourt advantage in the first round. Here’s what they have to do to end the longest playoff drought in NBA history — and the longest active streak in North American professional sports — after 16 consecutive losing seasons.
Current position: No. 3 in the Western Conference
Who they would play: If the playoffs started today, the Kings would play the No. 6 seed, the Golden State Warriors, in the first round of the playoffs.
Homecourt advantage: Yes, the Kings would currently have homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs, which will begin April 15.
Next up: The Kings will play the Suns on Friday at Golden 1 Center.
Games remaining: 10
Magic number for playoffs: 3
The Timberwolves (37-37) and Oklahoma City Thunder (36-36) are tied for seventh in the West followed by the Mavericks (36-37) and Lakers (36-37). The Timberwolves, Mavericks and Lakers can finish with no more than 45 wins. The Thunder could finish with 46 wins by going 10-0 to end the season, but the Kings would have to go just 3-7 to match that record. Under that scenario, Sacramento would win the tiebreaker by virtue of its 3-0 record against Oklahoma City in the regular-season series.
Magic number for homecourt advantage: 4
The top four teams in the West will have homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The No. 5 Clippers have nine games remaining. The No. 6 Warriors have eight games remaining. The Clippers would have to go 9-0 to finish with 47 wins. In that unlikely event, the Kings would only have to go 4-6 to match the Clippers with 47 wins, and Sacramento would win the tiebreaker for the No. 4 seed by virtue of its 3-1 advantage in the season series against Los Angeles.
Magic number for play-in tournament: 3
The teams that finish seventh, eight, ninth and 10th in the West will compete in the play-in tournament with a chance to earn the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds in the playoffs. The Mavericks (36-37) and Lakers (36-37) are currently tied for the last two play-in spots. If both go 9-0 to finish with 45 wins, the Kings would have to go 3-7 to finish with a better record. The Kings hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Lakers after going 3-1 against them in the season series. The Kings and Mavericks are tied at 1-1 in the season series with one more game to come April 5 in Dallas.