There are things with the Kings, as frustrated as I was tonight with this Kings group, that are worth nothing above and beyond the frustrating losses. So after the jump, here are my thoughts regarding the rest of the season starting with Denver.
First if you don't understand the beloved reference, it means beloved dipshits. Long time readers probably guessed, but that's because they know how predictable I am when it comes to these things.
Here is the remaining schedule:
|Mon, Mar 5||
|Wed, Mar 7||
|Fri, Mar 9||
||10:00 PM||NBA TV|
|Sun, Mar 11||
|Tue, Mar 13||
|Wed, Mar 14||
|Fri, Mar 16||
|Sun, Mar 18||
|Tue, Mar 20||
|Thu, Mar 22||
|Sat, Mar 24||10:30 PM||NBA TV|
|Mon, Mar 26||
|Wed, Mar 28||
||10:00 PM||NBA TV|
|Fri, Mar 30||
|Sat, Mar 31||
||10:00 PM||NBA TV|
|Mon, Apr 2||
|Tue, Apr 3||
|Thu, Apr 5||
|Sat, Apr 7||10:30 PM|
|Sun, Apr 8||
||9:00 PM||NBA TV|
|Tue, Apr 10||
|Wed, Apr 11||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Apr 13||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Apr 15||
|Wed, Apr 18||
|Fri, Apr 20||10:00 PM|
|Sun, Apr 22||6:00 PM|
|Tue, Apr 24||8:00 PM|
|Thu, Apr 26||
Now, there is a lot of games to be played. 10 road games, and 19 home games. That's a lot of the season to determine your fate. The Kings and their 4-17 road record (including last night's loss in Phoenix) have illustrated a 17 % winning percentage on the road. Translated to the rest of the 10 games, that means the Kings win 1.7 times in the next 10 road games. I'll say, as a pessimist (I think the Kings will win 2 or 3 call it a gut feeling), that the Kings only win 1 more game.
The Kings are also 8-6 at home, and that is a 57% winning percentage at home. (Since Keith Smart has taken over, the Kings are 6-4. The Wins are over Milwaukee, Indiana, Portland, Golden State, Oklahoma City and Utah. The losses are to Orlando, Denver, Phoenix and the Clippers.) That translates to 10.8 wins or 11 wins say. Let's say that turns out to be true and the Kings only win 12 games at home for the rest of the season. That means the Kings will be 25-41 to end the season. With Paul Westphal being 2-5 in the first 7 games (4 at home 3 on the road), Keith Smart has the rest of the season to work with. Up until now, that means the Kings have had 10 home games so far with Keith Smart as head coach and 21 games on the road with Smart as the head coach.
In otherwords, rather than saying what the Kings can't do, let's see how an extended home schedule works out in favor for this team.
After tonight against Denver, there is 9 home games in a row if you cannot tell from reading the massive schedule left.
The 9 games are: New Orleans (Wed March 7th), Dallas (Fri), Atlanta (Sunday), Golden State (Mar 13th). Detroit (Mar 14th), Boston (Mar 16th), Minnesota (Mar 18th), Memphis (Mar 20th), and Utah (Mar 22nd). I'll be conservative and say a 5-4 record is easily within reach. On the other hand, 7-2 or 8-1 homestand is possible if the Kings beat Dallas early on in the homestand which could mean this team gets on a roll. Hell, beating Denver tonight could help this team move forward in a positive fashion.
The Kings will be in Sacramento from Monday night (or very early Tuesday really) until March 23rd or so. The Kings don't even leave Northern California (they have a game in Oakland on March 24th that I'm amazingly super psyched for as I happen to be going to go that particular game) until March 25th when they leave to play a single game in Houston. Then the Kings come back to play San Antonio for a game, back on the road at Utah, then at home for 4 more against New Jersey (the only time the Kings play the Nets this season), Minnesota. Phoenix and then the La Clippers. In fact, then the Kings play in Staples Center for the only time against the Clippers this season the next night after that. (It's a home and home.) The Warriors game in Oakland is very winnable, as is the game in Houston, the Kings can play with anybody, including San Antonio, at home. Minnesota and Phoenix are also beatable at home no matter what's happened (including the loss last night in Phoenix). I think the Clippers could lose a game to the Kings for whatever reason, and 5-4 in that stretch is not entirely unreasonable in my opinion.
Then the Kings play at home against Houston, go on the road to Dallas, New Orleans and Oklahoma City in early April, and then come back for a 3 home games against Portland, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. To finish out the season, the Kings play in Charlotte, then Oklahoma City, and finish out the season on a Thursday against the Lakers. The Kings could go 5-4 in this stretch as well. I feel that is a conservative estimate looking at this schedule is remembering a few things.
In fact, there is only a few back to back's but none of them involve arduous travel. They are: Golden State and Detroit (Mar 13th & 14th), @Utah & home against New Jersey (Mar 30th & 31st), Minnesota and Phoenix (April 2nd and 3rd) are the last 4 in 5 night stretch this team will have. But unlike this current 4 in 5 game set the Kings are in, 3 of those games will be at home instead of the road. The Kings play back to back in Dallas and New Orleans (New Orleans is the 2nd game of the b2b) on April 10th and 11th respectively. From April 15th to April 26th, the Kings have at least 1 day to finish out the season.
Counting tonight in Denver as a loss, counting the first homestand as 5-4, the 2nd set of 9 games as 5-4, and the last 10 games as 5-5, you are talking about 15-14 as the record for the last 29 games of the season. That means the Kings, who are currently 12-25 as of this writing, would end up being 27-39 for the season. The Kings would be 25-34 under Keith Smart for a 42.3 winning percentage. (These are all hypotheticals of course.) Smart had a nearly 44 winning percentage with the Warriors in the 2010-11 season with a 36-46 record.
My point? Smart very well could push this team to a much better record with practice time, home cooking, and a chance to cement some quality habits once and for all. Every time this team has found it's rhythm at home, then it goes back on the road for a slew of games. For the first time all season, this Kings team will have a chance to really help itself at home.
Let's keep things in mind too: The Kings simply play better at home for a reason. The mistakes you can make at home are not as trechearous with home cooking as it is on the road. The Kings have 4 wins on the road this season; the Charlotte Bobcats have 4 wins total. It's not completely terrible with this Kings team as it might seem right now. The Kings do a number of things better at home that, up until this point, suggest that if this team can get a roll they could actually improve in a very real way. The Kings score more at home due to a significant amount of FT attempts (7 more per game) for starters, and frankly are a lot more competitive at home. Tyreke Evans has gotten to the line 92 times at home. Including last night against Phoenix, Tyreke has gotten to the line 88 times. That's right, in 14 games Tyreke gets to the line an average of 6.5 times a game and gets to the line on the road an average of 3.8 times. Problems? I think so. Tyreke also shoots worse at home than he does on the road for whatever reason. (Cousins is relatively unchanged. He misses shots everywhere the same way.) Marcus Thornton is significantly better at home than he is on the road for whatever reason. John Salmons is another example of a player who might really reverse his fortunes in the 2nd half of the season at home.
What I want is to evaluate Keith Smart under reasonable circumstances, and I think after this homestand ends, we will have those circumstances. Before we judge this team definitively under Smart, let's see how this group responds to a relatively favorable circumstance (as favorable as it gets for a bad team in the NBA that wants to reverse it's fortunes) as you will ever get in the NBA. Most teams never get 2 weeks at home, especially in a short season like this one, but the Kings have a chance to fix some of their ills at home over the next 2 and half weeks at home. Here's to hoping that tonight in Denver is the beginning of a nice stretch for a Kings team, and fanbase honestly, that could use 2 weeks of positive news for a change.
Because as upset as I am with the performance of this group on the road, this group could find itself reversing some of the real negative trends enveloping this team during the season at home. That reversal of trends I think says as much as anything about the potential for emotional growth and honest appraisal on how to improve.
Until the flip side appears once more.