Extra Pass: Giannis, Bucks take on Kings

Published January 22, 2022, 4:00 PMMiguel Flores

The Kings face a daunting task when they clash with the defending champions Bucks tomorrow.

The Kings? Really?

There are better things to do with your Sunday morning than watch the Sacramento Kings (18-29). The stress and disappointment of being a Kings fan/watcher is the total opposite of what we should be doing on our day of rest.

The Kings have been dismal since 2006, the last time they made the playoffs. Since then, humanity has moved on to social media and smartphones while the Kings have continued to languish in varying degrees of mediocrity. The best Kings teams of yore have been more beloved than they were actually good at basketball.

Given all that, the Kings present the most interesting watch for Sunday. With the NFL playoffs taking over primetime programming in the States, we’re left with a slim three-game slate to satiate our NBA needs.

On Sunday, the Kings face a great team – one of the best in the league in defending champs Milwaukee Bucks. This is the same Kings team who had close results against the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns and has multiple wins against the Los Angeles Lakers. When the Kings play up to their competition, they are a pretty fun watch.

It remains to be seen if Tyrese Haliburton, who missed time due to health and safety protocols, will play. But the Kings still have the speedy De’Aaron Fox leading the way. He hasn’t shot the ball well this season but Fox still does his best to contribute in other ways and he’s gotten his field-goal percentage up from around 39 to 45.8 now.

In their last game, the Kings even had Terence Davis go for a career-high 35 points in a loss to the Detroit Pistons. Add the always-ready-to-shoot Harrison Barnes and the Kings’ best center, Richaun Holmes, and you get some genuinely solid players.

These Kings may not have a winning culture or a solid identity, but they do have an opportunity to be great even for just one game come Sunday.

Better Bucks

The Bucks (29-19) have been low-key this year, partly due to the general craziness of another COVID season in the NBA and mostly because they’re in Milwaukee. Yet, the Milwaukee Bucks may be better than they were last season when they won the title and they’re still getting barely any attention.

For one, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been extraordinary. If Milwaukee does end up shooting up the Eastern Conference standings, Giannis deserves a third MVP nod as he’s currently averaging 28.6 points on 53.3 percent shooting with 11.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists. The Greek Freak’s dominance has become so expected that no one really gets excited for his usual 30-and-15 double-doubles or his nightly eurostep dunks. We mustn’t get consistency mixed up with mundane.

The rest of the Bucks lineup has been much more versatile. Brook Lopez missing most of this season due to a back procedure has opened the door for Bobby Portis to take over the starting role. Portis has been serviceable but the engine that keeps Milwaukee chugging past teams has been their core perimeter group led by Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. The Bucks have solid shot creators and defenders in Middleton and Holiday. Pat Connaughton, Greyson Allen, Donte DiVincenzo, and the rest of the guys who get minutes in Milwaukee get it done on both ends as spot-up shooters and switchable defenders.

The only thing that has stopped Milwaukee this season has been health as Holiday and Middleton had to deal with nagging injuries to start the season. When Holiday, Middleton, and Antetokounmpo are in the lineup, the Bucks are 18-3 this season. Sure, no NBA team can claim to have been healthy this season, but the Bucks have proven they’re near unstoppable when they are.

Kings vs Bucks

There’s a good chance this game turns into a blowout and you end up flicking the remote to some good old cartoons.

It’s also very tempting to stay tuned if the Kings show they can hang even just for a bit. Sacramento does have some bodies to throw at Giannis in Barnes, Bagley, and Holmes. The Kings also employ premium heat-check guys Buddy Hield and Barnes so they could end up shooting the Kings into contention.

But always consider just how good this Bucks team is. Out of all the contenders in the East, the Bucks have been the healthiest and have shown the least amount of weaknesses compared to teams like the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, and Miami Heat. It’s never a bad idea just to sit back and watch Giannis get 40 points in 30 minutes against a helpless defense. There are some risks to watching this game. Regardless of the result, there will be a reward.

Where to watch

You can catch the game live at 8:00 am tomorrow on TV5.