Milwaukee’s O.J. Mayo drives past either Reggie Evans or Quincy Acy.
The Milwaukee Bucks (13-56) and the Sacramento Kings (24-45)
Where are they playing?
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, California
When are they playing?
Sunday, March 23. 5:00 PM CT
What’s at stake?
Draft position, and draft position only. Both teams are eliminated from playoff contention in their respective conferences and are locked in heated battles for ping pong balls. Sacramento boasts the league’s seventh-worst record but is only 1.5 games behind the Lakers in the race for West futility.
The Bucks were playing efficient basketball for a stretch after the All-Star break but have since fallen back into old habits. Losers of six straight, Milwaukee is 1-9 in its last 10. Still, they lead Philadelphia by just 1.5 games for the league’s worst record (and a top-four guaranteed pick). With 13 games remaining, and Philly riding a 24-games losing streak, the stage is set for what could be one of the better tank-a-thons in recent history.
Who’s their best player?
For as bad as this franchise has been over the better part of the last decade, the 2013-14 edition has some intriguing talent. Isaiah Thomas is a capable point guard, while Rudy Gay has averaged 20.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting nearly 49 percent from the field since coming over from Toronto in December. Then, of course, there’s DeMarcus Cousins, who in his fourth year is putting together easily his best NBA season, averaging 22.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
The individual talent of the Big Three (I use that term lightly) has not necessarily translated to team success, but considering Marcus Thornton led this team in scoring two seasons ago, they have to be moving in the right direction. I think. Maybe. I don’t know.
Who’s hot for the Bucks?
Brandon Knight has continued to do Brandon Knight things (which is actually a good thing, in this context), scoring in double-figures in every game this month. Knight put up 27 points and six assists in Thursday’s loss to Golden State after going for 24 points, eight boards and four assists in Tuesday’s overtime defeat at the hands of the Blazers.
What’s the key matchup?
The Kings are dead last in the NBA in assists per game, so defending isolation situations will be vital to slowing down an offense that scores six points per game more than Milwaukee. The Bucks failed in this respect when these teams met on March 5, as the Big Three (just go with it) combined for 68 points and each shot at least 50 percent from the field.
What happened last time?
Sacramento prevailed 116-102 on March 5 in a game probably best remembered for Ersan Shoving Reggie Evans.
What’s the injury situation?
Carlos Delfino (foot) and Larry Sanders (face) are out, as usual. Nate Wolters, who suffered a broken hand during Thursday’s game, was fitted for a cast Saturday and is done for the season. The team has not announced who will start in his place.
Carl Landry (knee) is out for the season. Quincy Acy (ankle) is questionable. Rudy Gay left Friday’s game with a stomach illness and is also questionable.
When do they play again?
They don’t. Barring an unfathomable catastrophe casing them to meet in the Finals, of course.
C – DeMarcus Cousins
PF – Reggie Evans
SF – Rudy Gay
SG – Ben McLemore
PG – Isaiah Thomas
C – Zaza Pachulia
PF – Ersan Ilyasova
SF – Khris Middleton
SG – Ramon Sessions
PG – Brandon Knight
Scoring: 15th (101.0)
Scoring defense: 25th (103.5)
Rebounding: 10th (44.5)
Assists: 30th (19.0)
Scoring: 28th (95.0)
Scoring defense: 23rd (103.1)
Rebounding: 25th (41.2)
Assists: 16th (21.4)
Points: Knight (17.7), Cousins (22.1)
Assists: Knight (4.9), Thomas (6.3)
Rebounds: Henson (7.4), Cousins (11.8)
Blocks: Henson (1.8), Cousins (1.3)
PER: Henson (17.6), Cousins (25.5)
March 5 highlights