Ticket costs soar for Kings-Timberwolves game as Sacramento buzzes with playoff excitement

Sacramento crackled with excitement and ticket prices soared Monday as the Kings prepared to play the Minnesota Timberwolves in one of the most anticipated games in franchise history.

The Kings went into Monday’s game at Golden 1 Center with a chance to clinch their first playoff berth since 2006. Tickets were available for as low as $60 on Sunday, but prices for upper-level seats were going for $168 to $250 as of 2 p.m. Monday after it became clear the Kings would have an opportunity to end the longest playoff drought in NBA history in front of their home crowd.

Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox was cleared to return to the lineup after missing Saturday’s game against the Utah Jazz due to right hamstring soreness. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves announced that Karl-Anthony Towns was out due to right calf strain injury management and Anthony Edwards was questionable with a right ankle sprain.

Towns is a three-time All-Star who returned last week after missing 52 games with the calf injury. He is averaging 20.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists. The Timberwolves chose to rest Towns on the second night of a back-to-back after beating the Golden State Warriors on Sunday at Chase Center in San Francisco.

Edwards is a first-time All-Star who is averaging 24.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He had 27 points and eight assists in a 138-134 victory over the Kings on March 4 in Sacramento. He scored 34 and 33 points when the Kings and Timberwolves split a two-game set in late January in Minneapolis.

Fox, another first-time All-Star, is averaging 25.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists. He left Friday’s game against the Phoenix Suns with the hamstring injury and was held out of Saturday’s game against Utah as a precaution, but he was cleared to return after participating in Monday’s morning shootaround.

The Kings would have clinched a playoff spot Sunday if the Warriors had beaten the Timberwolves, but the Timberwolves escaped with a 99-96 victory. That set the stage for a historic evening in Sacramento, where fans have waited so long to see the Kings return to the playoffs.

The Kings (45-29) were third in the Western Conference with a six-game lead over the No. 4 Phoenix Suns going into Monday’s game. They had a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Timberwolves, a Suns loss to the Jazz or a Los Angeles Clippers loss to the Chicago Bulls.

The Timberwolves (38-37) were seventh in the West, a half-game back of the Warriors for the No. 6 seed.

Kings rookie Keegan Murray goes into Monday’s game needing only four more 3-pointers to break Donovan Mitchell’s rookie record of 187. Murray went 6 of 12 from 3-point range while scoring 22 points in Saturday’s win over Utah.

Murray, who came out of Iowa as the No. 4 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, is averaging 12.0 points and 4.6 rebounds. He is shooting 44.9% from the field and 41% from 3-point range.