By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
After 16 long seasons, the Sacramento Kings are back in the NBA playoffs.
Already locked in with the Western Conference’s third spot with a 45-30 win-loss record, Sacramento made their NBA post-season qualification after crushing the Portland Trailblazers, 120-80, last March 30, 2023.
The Damian Lillard-less Trailblazers struggled to keep up with Sacramento’s run-and-gun pace and got left behind when the third quarter kicked off led by the hot-shooting of Malik Monk who scored 19 markers in the playoff-clinching victory.
Sacramento survived a slow start after only scoring 19 points in the first 12 minutes of the game and turned on the jets in the last three quarters.
The Kings scored three-consecutive 30-point quarters: 31, 33, and 37 points that added to Portland’s defensive woes.
Superstar point guard De’Aaron Fox contributed 18 big points in the win while star center Domantas Sabonis chipped in 15 points and 12 rebounds.
In retrospect, it was still the roster headed by Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic, Metta World Peace, and Bonzi Wells that last gave the Sacramento franchise a trip to the post-season.
After the 2005-2006 NBA season, the Kings became one of the worst teams in the league when they failed to secure a single playoff spot until now.
“I think our potential is limitless. We know that we can score with anybody. Our season will hang on if we can get stops, and that’s something that we’re continuing to work on every day. If we become a better defensive team, we could win a championship,” said Fox in an interview with Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes.
What’s also the most impressive thing about Sacramento’s achievement this season is breaking their slump as the team who had the longest active playoff drought in the major sports leagues of the US.
The Kings will only have six games remaining before the playoffs start and will look to enter the 50-win club if they emerge victorious in four games.
Up next for Sacramento are Portland, Spurs, Pelicans, Mavericks, Golden State, and the league-leading Denver Nuggets.