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Heat confront Kings, the NBA’s fastest team, as Bam Adebayo faces former teammate De’Aaron Fox

The much improved Kings may give the Heat a run for their money in Miami tonight on the front end of a back-to-back.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat square off against a very different Sacramento Kings from two years ago who featured DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Darren Collison, Garrett Temple, and the like.

This season’s Kings average the fastest average speed in the NBA at 4.43 overall, and third in offense at 4.75, while the defense of the Heat clocks in at the third slowest at 3.78.

Seems like a mismatch when getting back except that the 6-1 Golden State Warriors defense is even slower at 3.76 and the 6-0 Milwaukee Bucks and 4-2 Boston Celtics rank just ahead of the Heat at 3.83 and 3.84.

Buddy Hield leads the King’s speedsters at a NBA-best 4.70 for players on the court 25 min or more, and veteran Goran Dragic runs the fastest on offensive at 5.23, although getting back Hield clocks in 4.26 and Dragic 3.73.

Hield’s 24 points lead the Kings to a 123-118 overtime win over the Heat last March 14 in a high-scoring game like the ones so common this season.

De’Aaron Fox is Hield’s partner-in-crime with a breakout season, such as this complete game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Talking about Fox wouldn’t be complete without mentioning former teammate Bam Adebayo from their University of Kentucky days, and a video that has a “not top-ten” failed dunk by Bam.

Sactown Royalty writes about the impressive new-look Kings this year.

“But upon closer inspection, the Kings’ success can be zeroed in on four players in particular: De’Aaron Fox, Hield, Nemanja Bjelica, and Willie Cauley-Stein. Those four have powered the Kings early this season, and the numbers back it up.”

“The Kings’ group ranks fourth overall in net rating [21.1] among the NBA’s 35 most used four-man lineups (minimum 80 minutes played).”

The Heat’s top qualifying 4-man lineup of Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Rodney McGruder and Josh Richardson is just behind at sixth with a net rating of 14.1.

The difference comes from the Sacramento’s superior EFG% of 62% versus Miami’s subpar 55%, while the Heat outrebound the Kings’ foursome by 56% to 49%.

Best four-man lineup for Miami, that logged over 30 minutes this season, includes Dragic, Whiteside, Richardson and Kelly Olynyk at a net rating of +31, with a much better 64 EFG% and 64 REB%.

The Kings won both games against the Heat last season: the first one a 89-88 loss at AAArena with only 3.3 seconds remaining as Fox caught Miami defenders flat-footed at the rim.

Stats from NBA stats