How Kings can clinch long-awaited playoff spot vs. Jazz


When the Kings face the Utah Jazz on Saturday at Golden 1 Center, Sacramento could throw its biggest party in 16 seasons after the game.

The Beam Team has an opportunity to clinch the Kings' first NBA playoff appearance since 2006, but a few things must happen for the celebration to begin.

First, what the Kings can control: They must beat the Jazz. Two of their Pacific Division opponents, the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns, also must lose, per the NBA.

Sacramento enters Saturday's contest against Utah with a 44-29 record and holding the Western Conference's No. 3 seed. The Clippers and Suns, Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, face the New Orleans Pelicans and Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

The Kings last played the Jazz on Monday and lost 128-120. But Sacramento since has benefitted from the return of sharpshooter Kevin Huerter, who finished Friday night's 135-127 win over the Suns with a team-high 29 points in his first game back from a leg injury.

But even if Saturday's scenario doesn't play out, the Kings still can end their postseason drought without any help from losses by the teams below them in the standings. As long as the Kings beat the Jazz, they can clinch a playoff berth by winning a third straight over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, regardless of how the other teams do.

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It's not a matter of if but when Sacramento officially can say the drought has ended, and it could be on the team's home court Saturday after facing the Jazz.

Whenever that moment happens, Kings fans certainly can expect the victory beam to shine brighter than ever before.

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