Sixers at Kings: Storylines to watch after Luke Walton firing

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What to watch for as undermanned Sixers face Kings team that just fired coach originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Of the two games left on the Sixers’ six-game road trip, Monday night’s matchup in Sacramento looks by far the most winnable.

With the trip’s finale coming Wednesday against the Warriors, here are the essentials for the meeting between the 9-8 Sixers and 6-11 Kings: 

  • When: 10 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 9:30 p.m. 

  • Where: Golden 1 Center  

  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia  

  • Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app 

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Kings’ coaching change

Sacramento fired Luke Walton as its head coach over the weekend and named 67-year-old Alvin Gentry as interim head coach.

The last decade and a half or so has been a dark time for the Kings, who have lost seven of their last eight games. The last time the team made the postseason was in 2006 when Rick Adelman coached a roster with Mike Bibby, Bonzi Wells and Kenny Thomas.

Though not the worst in the league like season, Sacramento’s defense didn’t improve much early this year under Walton. The Kings enter Monday’s game 24th in defensive rating, per Cleaning the Glass, and have been a middling offensive team in part due to point guard De’Aaron Fox’s inefficiency. In his fifth season, Fox has shot 41.9 percent from the floor and 24.3 percent from three-point range.  

More injuries pop up 

After not playing the final two minutes and 23 seconds of the Sixers’ loss Saturday to the Trail Blazers, Tobias Harris was ruled out against Sacramento at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET with left hip soreness.

Seth Curry (back stiffness) is also sidelined.

Joel Embiid, Danny Green and Ben Simmons remain out. Embiid entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Nov. 8 after testing positive for COVID-19. Green hurt his left hamstring again on the opening game of this trip. Most NBA fans likely don’t require a refresher on Simmons, who’s told the Sixers he’s not mentally ready to play.

Harris nearly had a triple-double the last time the Sixers played Sacramento, posting 29 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in a blowout March win without Simmons, Embiid and Curry. The Sixers would be thrilled with a similar shorthanded effort, though this situation is even more extreme.

Keep an eye on the glass 

Like the Sixers, the Kings have been a poor defensive rebounding team. Opponents have grabbed 29.1 percent of available offensive boards against them, which ranks 29th in the league.

In that context, is Andre Drummond due for a big night on the glass? He’s been unproductive as a rebounder over the past three games, both by his lofty standards and in general. Since a stretch of four consecutive double-digit rebounding performances, Drummond has pulled down 16 total rebounds in 63 minutes and just one offensive rebound. 

Drummond will be opposed by Richaun Holmes, who’s been a Kings bright spot. The former Sixer has averaged 14.2 points and 9.9 rebounds, shooting a career-high 68.7 percent from the floor.