The Kings are two wins away from a 40-win season and are closing in on an NBA playoff berth. Both haven’t happened in 16 years.
Sacramento’s goals are bigger than just lighting the victory beam at Golden 1 Center for a postseason appearance, however.
“Honestly, Coach [Mike Brown] has us talking championship,” center Chimezie Metu said to NBC Sports California’s Kyle Draper and Kenny Thomas on “Kings Postgame Live” Monday night.
“That’s our mentality. Obviously, we need to clean up defensively. I don’t think anybody in the league can score with us. If we start getting stops, it’s going to be scary.”
The Kings have been the Western Conference’s biggest surprise this season. Through 64 games, Sacramento is 38-26 and a half-game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 2 playoff seed.
Metu and the Kings could be tied for the second spot in the West if the Grizzlies lose to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.
Brown is known more as a defensive-minded coach, but his Kings have risen through the standings with a high-flying offense. Sacramento is the NBA’s highest-scoring team (121.1 points per game) and is on pace to post the best all-time offensive rating in league annals (119.4).
The Kings have scored at least 120 points in their last seven games, including a 123-108 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night without All-Star guard De’Aaron Fox in the lineup. They have three separate streaks of at least five straight 120-point games this season, while only five other teams have accomplished it once.
Aside from former NBA champions Harrison Barnes and Matthew Dellavedova, Sacramento will be entering the playoff bracket without much postseason experience. The defense, which owns the league’s sixth-worst defensive rating (115.9), continues to be a concern.
But no matter who the Kings match up against in the postseason, they present a unique challenge as a franchise starving to make noise in the playoffs with a historic offense and youthful roster.