The Sacramento Kings qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the longest drought in NBA history. Mar 29, 2023; Portland, Oregon, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Kevin Huerter (9), forward Domantas Sabonis (10), and guard De’Aaron Fox (5) high-five each other during a time out in the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

On May 5, 2006, the Sacramento Kings were eliminated in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, falling 105-83 to the San Antonio Spurs to lose the series 4-2. To date, that is the most recent playoff game in the history of the Kings. But that will not be the case for much longer.

Sacramento needed one win to clinch a playoff spot. It came emphatically on Wednesday night.

The Kings led by only four over the Portland Trail Blazers at halftime, but dominated the second half 70-34 en route to a 120-80 victory.

The 16 years without playoff appearances was not only the longest active NBA streak but the longest in history. It broke the record of 15 years, held by the Los Angeles Clippers from 1977-1992. It’s also not a record that will be broken any time soon. The next-longest active streak belongs to the Charlotte Hornets, who last made the playoffs in 2017.

Sacramento’s postseason drought was the longest active in not just the NBA but in all of the four major professional North American leagues. The NFL’s New York Jets now hold the longest drought.

The NBA world congratulated the Kings on finally breaking the long spell.

As far as what’s next for the Kings, that remains to be seen.

Sacramento currently holds the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. It’s highly unlikely that the Kings will slide below that but at only two behind the Memphis Grizzlies and hold the tiebreaker. But only two games separate the Phoenix Suns — who hold the No. 4 seed — and the Minnesota Timberwolves who currently occupy the No. 7 spot and would be in the play-in tournament if the season ended today.

So, while the season is almost over, there are many variables to be sorted out before figuring out who the Kings will see in the playoffs.

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