Schedule Breakdown: Southeast Division
The Southeast Division was a grind last season. Aside from the Pacific, no division honed less playoff teams (2) than the Southeast, as the Miami Heat and Washington Wizards were the lone representatives.
At 44-38, the Heat were the lowest seeded division winner in the NBA. Right on their heels were the Wizards, who finished one game behind Miami at 43-39, earning the final playoff spot in the East.
With the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks holding top picks in the 2018 Draft, the division will receive a fresh, young set of talent and a different energy this coming season.
Let’s take a closer look at what the Kings have to watch for heading into this campaign.
Last season’s division winner was a surprising one to many. Most preseason predictions penned the Washington Wizards winning the Southeast, but Erik Spoelstra’s team cares not for your predictions.
Miami didn’t make any earth-shattering moves this summer, largely keeping their core intact with the hope of returning, healthy players giving them a boost this season. One key move was the re-signing of Wayne Ellington, who brought a strong presence from beyond the arc for Miami.
For Spo’s squad, nothing can be counted out, including another division-leading season once again.
2018-19 matchups vs Heat
10/29/18 @ Miami
2/8/19 vs Miami
If there was a team that failed to meet expectations last season, it was the Washington Wizards. Many experts had predicted a breakout season for the Wiz, including a deep playoff run in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, the Wizards finished at 43-39 and landed the eighth seed. But, with John Wall and Bradley Beal still holding down the backcourt, the talent Washington carries can’t be denied.
Now, Dwight Howard joins the locker room along with former Cavaliers swingman Jeff Green. Scott Brooks’ squad is once again predicted to compete for the division lead.
The Kings failed to win either matchup against the Wizards last season, losing both games early in the season. Sactown has their first chance to redeem last season’s performance in October.
2018-19 matchups vs Wizards
10/26/18 vs Washington
3/11/19 @ Washington
After two consecutive seasons finishing at 36-46, the Charlotte Hornets decided to make a change at the head coaching position. Out is Steve Clifford, in comes James Borrego, former assistant to Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
This comes just months after the Hornets hired Mitch Kupchak as President and General Manager under Michael Jordan’s ownership.
Borrego’s squad comes with new talent both old and new, with the drafting of Miles Bridges from Michigan State and signing Spurs legend Tony Parker away from where he called home for 17 seasons.
Charlotte beat Sacramento in both January matchups last season, with the latter game in North Carolina being a tight one. The Kings get their first crack at the new-look Hornets once again in January.
2018-19 matchups vs Hornets
1/12/19 vs Charlotte
1/17/19 @ Charlotte
Steve Clifford spent five seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, but his next job won’t be too far from his last. Staying in the division, Clifford is the newest coach of the Orlando Magic, becoming the 14th head coach in franchise history.
Even bigger for the Magic was the return of young star Aaron Gordon, who is undoubtedly their franchise player. Joining Gordon this year is heralded rookie Mo Bamba, who drew tons of praise during the NBA Draft process due to his impressive physical attributes.
Clifford and Co. will have to reverse some misfortune, as the Magic are coming off a 25-57 record. But, there’s reason for optimism in the Sunshine State.
The Kings swept the season series against the Magic last year, including a narrow triumph in January on the road. Sactown hopes to continue their good run against Orlando early this season.
2018-19 matchups vs Magic
10/30/18 @ Orlando
1/7/19 vs Orlando
The Hawks are also going through a rebuild, hiring Lloyd Pierce as their new head coach and selecting college superstar Trae Young in the draft.
At 24-58, the Hawks are hoping for an added jolt from their new point guard to go along with their impressive sophomore John Collins. Jeremy Lin also joins the team this season for an added veteran presence.
Sacramento and Atlanta split their season series last year, but with both teams possessing young talent across the board, this year’s series should be just as competitive.
2018-19 matchups vs Hawks
11/1/18 @ Atlanta
1/30/19 vs Atlanta