Posted on March 15, 2019, by Travis Pulver
If the Sacramento Kings are going to sneak into the playoffs, they need to steal a win every chance they get. However, with the Boston Celtics coming off a 25-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, maybe they could get lucky and catch the Celtics in a mini-slump.
At first, it looked like they might do just that.
Sacramento took advantage of Boston’s poor shooting in the first quarter to take a 38-25 lead. The Celtics shot a dismal 34.8 percent from the field while the Kings shot 64.8 percent. Then the good times continued to roll for the Kings in the second as they stretched their lead out to 15-points, 42-27, fairly quick.
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But Boston kept pounding away at Sacramento’s lead and eventually whittled it down to six points, 62-56, heading into halftime.
The Celtics got off to a fast start in the third quarter and briefly took the lead, 65-64, following a Marcus Morris jumper. But the Kings roared back and pushed their lead back out to 13-points, 80-67, following a De’Aaron Fox layup with 7:32 left in the quarter.
Not to be outdone, the Celtics mounted a late comeback in the quarter with a 16-2 in the final minutes. That put Boston ahead, 93-91, heading into the final quarter.
The game remained close for much of the fourth quarter, but once it crossed the midway point, the Celtics started to pull away. An Al Horford dunk pushed the lead out to 12-points, 120-108, for the Celtics.
Kyrie Irving finished off the scoring for the night with a free throw in the final seconds to make the final score, 126-120, Celtics. Irving finished the night with 31 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds for just the second triple-double of his career.
“It’s going to be a dogfight, no matter who you are playing against,” Irving said after the game (ESPN). “Obviously, when you have a team fighting for playoff position, it is going to be that type of intensity and you have to be ready for it.”
The Celtics also got 22 points out of Jaylen Brown and a double-double out of Marcus Morris, 21 points and 13 rebounds. Buddy Hield led the way for Sacramento with 34 points followed by Harrison Barnes with 20. De’Aaron Fox chipped in 19.
With the win, the Celtics improve to 42-27 but are still 1.5 games behind the 76ers for the No. 4 seed in the East and home-court advantage for the first round. They will get a chance to make up some of that ground next week when they travel to Philadelphia (Wednesday, March 20).
In the meantime, they have to win the games they should—like the one they have Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks.
Sacramento may need a small miracle to make the playoffs now. With the loss, their record falls to 33-34, and five games behind the Clippers for the No. 8 seed with 15 games left. They will have a tough one on their hands Friday night when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers.