Five keys as Kings hit 25 game sprint to the finish line

Defensive improvement is only part of the battle for Kings

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25 games to prove you belong.

The Sacramento Kings are about to enter the stretch run, and for a franchise that hasn’t known success in more than a decade and a half, these are uncharted waters.

It starts Thursday night when the Portland Trail Blazers limp into Sacramento after nearly 24 hours of travel issues. With most of their starters on the shelf for one reason or another, this is an opportunity for the Kings to add to their win total.

Whether the Blazers show up ready to compete or not doesn’t really matter. The Kings control their own fate. They are currently in the three spot in the Western Conference and it has nothing to do with smoke and mirrors.

Saying that, the post All-Star schedule is when the contenders separate from the pretenders. It is the ramp up to the real NBA postseason that starts in April when playoff seeds are established and seven game series get under way.

Sacramento is a long way away from their ultimate goal, but they have positioned themselves well. They have a tough schedule to finish the year, but this squad has shown a resilience seldom seen from the Kings.

Here are five keys to the Kings finishing off the season on a high note and snapping the franchise’s 16-year playoff drought.

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