The San Antonio Spurs come into their season restart opener hobbled and looking to the future. They'll be without LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder surgery) and Trey Lyles (appendectomy) for the remaining eight-games and will opt for player development instead of fully focusing on a playoff berth.
The young core will shoulder the load for the 12th-seeded Spurs but for the Kings, San Antonio remains a tough first game no matter the situation the Spurs currently find themselves in.
"We know each other," said Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic. "It's not like we are playing them for the first time. They know us as well so it's going to be a tough game for both teams. They know what they are doing on defense and offense. They're a pretty tough matchup."
During the regular-season the Spurs and Kings met twice splitting their games at 1-1.
In the first meeting, it took a Marco Belinelli last second three-point basket to secure a 105-104 overtime win for the Spurs at the AT&T Center. In their second meeting, the Kings thumped the Spurs, 122-102, in Sacramento behind Buddy Hield's 31 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists performance.
But the past is the past and Sacramento is throwing out what transpired before the NBA shut-down.
"They're good. They got some good young talent," Kings coach Luke Walton said. "And when you mix good, young talent with DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay guys like that, they're a very good team."
San Antonio stuck to their development mindset during scrimmage play, showcasing their young players such as Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray, and Derrick White.
The veteran players saw limited time, Patty Mills didn't play at all, and the Spurs put their young players in different situations to further their development.
Nevertheless, with their promising youth and veteran players, the Kings are ready for what the Spurs will do on the court.
"The (Spurs) young guys play extremely fast, they're versatile, they're having games where they're hitting those threes, and they look good on tape," Walton said.
The Spurs finished scrimmage play at 1-2 and will be looking to continue their development focus against Sacramento. It'll be an opportunity for the young players to get meaningful minutes in a meaningful NBA game.
"They're playing DeMar (DeRozan) as a four, with Rudy (Gay) as a four and there's a ton of space out there," Walton noted. "They're getting down hill on people, moving the ball like San Antonio does."
As the teams get set to return to regular-season play, history is at stake.
The Kings are looking to end a 13-year playoff drought while the Spurs could extend their current playoff appearance streak to an NBA-record 23. While San Antonio's Gregg Popovich has his sights set on grooming players, the veterans are looking to make a push for the postseason.
“Our goal is to win every game in front of us," Rudy Gay said. "It’s going to be tougher than it sounds but that’s going to be our goal.”
And the Kings will be right there in the mix.
"100-percent we want to make the playoffs but every team here does," Walton said. "The Spurs have been a pretty constant in the playoffs but every team wants to make the playoffs."