Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings

Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs look to avenge a All-Star snub against a team with snubs of their own

I think we can all agree that the All-Star Snub is a silly thing in this era of basketball.

Not the idea that players are snubbed, but the fact that the All-Star rosters should have been expanded to 15 players per team once the NBA merged with the ABA back in 1976. Or, at the very least, by 1996, when the league had expanded to 29 teams.

Why the roster has never expanded has fueled a lot of questions as of late, but there’s never been a clear answer per se. Deep in the chasms of NBA conspiracy theory there’s been a rumor circulating for years that NBA team owners refused to expand the teams around the time of the merger out of resentment towards the upstart ABA, and as attempt to keep the flashier ABA players from outnumbering NBA players on the roster, but this no more confirmed than tales of refrigerated lottery envelopes.

The conversation itself has a way of getting heated just between basketball fans as it is.

There are of course those who believe that expanding the roster would water down the value of the selection, a response that looks almost as ridiculous as this year’s final score, or any year that the BBWAA refuses to vote in any players to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

This is naturally countered by the grouping of individuals who argue that the selections no longer have any value at all, which might hold water if not for the fact that so many players have contract incentives tied to said selections.

In any case, each mid-season is filled with debates and articles about the cases for various players, which I suspect is a big part of the reason that the NBA has resisted expanding the roster in the twitter/x era of basketball fandom.

Meanwhile, tonight, a pair of teams featuring two (arguably three) of the biggest snubs of the season will face off in their first contest since the break.

The snub for the Spurs couldn’t be more obvious, with youthful wunderkind Victor Wembanyama sporting a stat-line that no one has seen since the halcyon primes of David Robinson and Hakeen Olajuwon, as a rookie.

However, the Kings (with the spotlight off of their small market after ending their streak of postseason absences) have two excellent players toiling in relative obscurity, as Domantas Sabonis averages Nikola Jokic-lite numbers (20/13/8 on 43/62/70 shooting) while tallying the most double-doubles (42) through a NBA team’s first 46 games since Moses Malone in 1983, and De’Aaron Fox throws in 27 points and 5 assists per game for good measure. (Making Fox the first player with those averages, and a winning record, to not be selected)

I imagine the Kings will come out playing like they have something to prove due to the snubs in question, which does not bode well for the Spurs. Clinging to the 8th seed as the Mavericks and Lakers surge, the Kings will be under a lot a pressure to perform for a fan-base still recovering from an extended stretch of team futility as they hunt for a higher berth to avoid the play-in.

The only break the Silver and Black may catch appears to be the health of Sabonis, who has apparently been struck with an illness of some sort.

If Sabonis is unable to play, and Wembanyama and the Spurs are able to keep Fox and his teammates from getting to the rim (The Spurs have been 12th in defensive rating since the start of the new year), they may be able to steal one from the Kings, as Sabonis has also been serving as the primary distributor to Kings shooters from his foothold down low.

As has been the case a lot this season, the game is likely to be tight even if the Spurs play well. But if youngsters can find a way to gum up the works against the Kings and deny them easy shots, we might all find ourselves pleasantly surprised.

San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings

February 22nd, 2024 | 9:00 CT

Watch: Bally (Soon to be renamed) Sports Southwest|Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Charles Bassey – Out (Knee), Marcus Morris Sr. (Buyout Blues)

Kings Injuries: Domantas Sabonis – Doubtful (Illness), Sasha Vezenkov – Out (Ankle)

For the Kings’ fans’ perspective, visit The Kings Herald.

PtR’s Game thread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.

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