The surging Sacramento Kings (22-26) will defend home court as they host their archnemesis, the Los Angeles Lakers (30-18) who have been beset by injuries to its star players. The Kings will be 4½ favorites on the point spread per the NBA lines.
I’m not a big believer in the Kings, who have put together a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act throughout the season. But the Lakers have become so bad on offense and the Kings are on a bit of a roll here. So I’m taking Sacramento to make good on their spread this Friday.
Lakers: Scraping By
Life without any stars has been quite miserable for the Lakers. They’re just a notch above their lottery version before LeBron James came. Since LeBron was hurt, the Lakers have lost five of their last seven games. Their offense plummeted and only the Cavaliers have had a lower rating.
The Lakers acquired C Andre Drummond, but not only did he look rusty in his debut but also injured himself (toe). G/F Wesley Matthews (neck) is also hurt. It will be up to G Dennis Schroder and F Montrezl Harrell to carry the team
Schroder has been inconsistent but is still managing 18.7 points per game to go with 6.6 assists through the seven games. Harrell has feasted and put up 20.7 points to lead the team along with 8.7 boards with 64.8% shooting.
But that’s a lot of empty stats as the Lakers’ only two wins have come against the Cavs and Magic. They’ve lost to every team above .500, are 0-5 as an underdog, and are 1-6 against the spread. How much longer before fans start panicking?
Kings: Royal Offense
The Kings can’t seem to make up their mind whether they’re tanking or making a run for the playoffs. This team has gone through several losing and winning streaks. Lately, it’s been more of the latter as they’ve won seven of their last nine games.
Sacramento has been on fire and is posting the seventh-best offense in the NBA during this span. Their effective field goal percent (EFG%) is fourth and they have the seventh-lowest turnover percent (TOV%).
Their two losses have come against Philadelphia and San Antonio, two defensive teams with winning records. They did beat San Antonio prior to the loss and if you remove their loss to the Sixers, their EFG% shoots up to first.
The book has been out on these Kings. They can score, especially against subpar teams or ineffective defenses. But put them up against a contender, and they will likely lose. This team can explode on offense if teams are not careful, regardless.
The Kings have struggled against the NBA’s top defenses, which the Lakers happen to be even without James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers are still rated as the NBA’s top defense and that’s why the spread is what it is.
However, the Lakers have also been so lackluster on offense. Schroder and Harrell are the worst 1-2 in the Western Conference in terms of scoring and F Kule Kuzma is terrible without James.
Sacramento should win this game even if their defense can make the Lakers look like a better team than they are. Alas, L.A. will fall short and won’t be able to keep up with the Kings’ combustible backcourt led by G De’Aaron Fox (24.7 points, 7.2 assists, 57.1 TS%).
Bet on the Kings to get it done with the points. Also, look into the under here as the Lakers have consistently underperformed the totals while six of the Kings’ last ten games have gone under as well.
Pick: Sacramento Kings -4½ -110