Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown assures his team won't be taking the Sacramento Kings lightly despite a significant scheduling advantage Friday night when the clubs meet in Philadelphia.
The Kings will be playing the second half of a road back-to-back after a tightly contested 126-120 loss at Boston on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the 76ers were at home watching on television, having not played since a 106-99 home win over Cleveland on Tuesday.
When asked if his team had overlooked the perennial Western Conference lottery club in an earlier 115-108 loss at Sacramento on Feb. 2, and perhaps even in last season's series sweep at the hands of the Kings, Brown insisted only that it surely would not be the case in Friday's rematch.
"This year's team, especially, it's got some bounce," Brown praised of the Kings. "It actually has some firepower. Fast forward that team out three to five years if they can hold onto their core. It's impressive."
The Kings surely got the 76ers' attention with Thursday's performance at Boston. Sacramento led by as many as 17 points in the first half before coming up a bit short in the end.
Unfortunately for the Kings, they had to burn three key players -- De'Aaron Fox (37), Buddy Hield (35) and Harrison Barnes (35) -- 35 or more minutes apiece on the front end of the back-to-back.
And while Marvin Bagley III was able to return from a five-game absence because of a knee injury, Kings coach Dave Joerger wants to see how his rookie responds on Friday morning after getting 19 minutes of action.
He'll be a game-time decision.
Thursday's loss dropped the Kings (33-34) under .500 for the first time since Jan. 8 and five games out of the final playoff spot in the West.
It's desperation time with just 15 games remaining, but several Kings remained confident on the eve of the rugged back-to-back on Thursday night.
"Our hopes are still the same," veteran center Willie Cauley-Stein insisted to reporters before the game Thursday. "We still believe we can make it, so we'll keep grinding."
The 76ers no doubt were rooting for the Kings on Thursday. The win allowed the Celtics to move within 1 1/2 games of Philadelphia in the three-team battle for the third, fourth and fifth positions in the Eastern standings.
Indiana moved ahead of the 76ers with a win over Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
The 76ers will be looking to complete a sweep of their three-game homestand against the Kings, with nine of their remaining 13 games after Friday being on the road.
It was Philadelphia that was at the scheduling disadvantage in the February meeting, with the 76ers coming off an emotional 113-104 win at Golden State two days earlier.
The 76ers then got into a scoring duel with the Kings, and did it without one of their big guns, guard J.J. Redick.
The Kings prevailed by outshooting the 76ers 45.7 percent to 44.1 percent and outscoring them 33-21 on 3-pointers. Hield led the way with seven 3-pointers and 34 points.
The 76ers came up short despite a 29-point, 17-rebound effort from Joel Embiid.
--Field Level Media