NBA Pick: San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings
San Antonio Spurs (32-22, 31-23 ATS) vs. Sacramento Kings (27-25, 30-21-1 ATS)
When: Monday, February 4th, 2019 – 10:00 pm ET
Where: Golden 1 Center – Sacramento, CA
Point Spread: SA -2/SAC +2 (SportsBetting.ag)
Last Night in the NBA
If you had the number of Celtics championships (-120) over Total Points Scored in Super Bowl LIII, go ahead and cash that ticket at the window. Now that the NFL has tied itself up in a little bow, the NBA and I are back and ready to take the sports world by storm. I gracefully bowed halfway out of the NBA picture while diving heads first into college hoops, but I’m looking forward to picking up right where I left off and head into the All-Star break guns blazing.
While we were away, the Sixers won the battle (versus Golden State) and then lost the war (to the freaking Kings), Luka-mania reached another peak, and Russell Westbrook tried to go Super Saiyan against the Celtics and ended up shooting himself in the foot. Never change, Russ.
Tonight, I get to return to the scene of the crime as the San Antonio Spurs visit the Sacramento Kings in their home arena. Buddy Hield sunk the Sixers with a barrage of deep treys in his last game, and the Spurs handled the lowly, about-to-be-tanking Pelicans in professional fashion. The Spurs are currently favored by 2-points over the home team with the total set to a steady 227.5 points. LA Rams Total Points in Super Bowl LIII vs. Total Remaining Games Carmelo Anthony Plays in his Career. Rams -0.5 (-160).
The Old-Time Spurs
If you picked up the current San Antonio Spurs and dropped them into the 1980s, they would fit right in and probably play the Showtime Lakers in every conference championship of the decade. But this is the 21st century, Buck Rodgers. Once the clock struck 2010, some MIT nerd did the math and realized that 3 points were worth more than 2, and the NBA smartened up quick. The Spurs, however, have not. The Houston Rockets lead the league by taking 51.3% of their shots from 3-point land. The Spurs are in last and attempt only 28.2% of their shots from beyond. That is a precipitous drop-off. But in a way, I’m glad that the Spurs exist. In a league becoming increasingly uniform in the ethos of an NBA offense, it’s never bad to have a knuckleball pitcher in the rotation. Do you, Popp.
If there was ever a team to throw a knuckleball to, it’s the Sacramento Kings. The Fox-led team plays at the second fastest team in the league, and they’re at their most lethal when they can get out in transition and score on unset defenses. To combat that, the Spurs will do what they do best: slow the game down to a crawl and suffocate the Kings into a slow death.
San Antonio’s two biggest assets lie in their two best players. Inexperienced opponents have trouble adjusting to the unorthodox method in which DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge handle their basketball business. The art of the mid-range died a few years ago like the measles, and DeMar and LA are the anti-vaxxers that brought it back. To take down the Kings, most of the onus lies on the Spurs’ go-to guys. If the Kings are able to stop them, it’ll come down to the offensive work done by guys like Davis Bertans and the immortal Patty Mills. Let’s hope Plan A works out for San Antonio.
The Boys Who Would Be Kings
There’s a lot of noise about the Sacramento Kings this season, and it’s mostly justified. This team had the second lowest over-under of any team in the NBA, and they are on pace to finish over 0.500 and possibly contend for a playoff spot. But the reality is that, while they are still rebuilding, the Kings are a perfectly average basketball team, and De’Aaron Fox may not be quite as destined for stardom as we initially thought. I don’t want to throw water on any of the Kings’ fans celebrations. They have a collection of young talent that seems to make sense in the modern NBA, and if they properly develop, it’s a team that is going to be very interesting very soon. But even if you like all of the parts of their squad…they passed on Luka. Tough look for the Kings.
Lamentations aside, the Kings are one of the more perplexing teams in the NBA, and I mean that in a good way. They are just tough to figure out from “night to night”, and that is the task that lies ahead of the San Antonio Spurs. Some nights, Buddy looks like the second coming of Klay Thompson, and Fox the new John Wall (the good version of John Wall). Others, they look like…well, Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox – two young, inexperienced guards in an extremely talented Western Conference. If I had to guess, however, I would think that we see more of the former in this game. The Spurs’ collection of guards is Division 2 level at best, and the two blue-blood guys should have their way.
If the offense struggles, don’t expect the Kings defense to step up. Willie Cauley-Stein is a much-improved player, and in theory, he’s DeAndre Jordan Lite. But the Kings are young and dumb, and with guys like Bagley and Giles patrolling the paint in spurts, I think LaMarcus and DeRozan have a chance to mid-range them into oblivion. Be wary of the old-man games.
After you get past the Warriors and Thunder of the world, there is a lot of wiggle room within the Western Conference standings. If you go by the Basketball-Reference Playoff Probabilities report, you’ll find that Kings are just barely on the outside looking in, and they’re projected to finish 9th in the standings (just ahead of the Lakers – PLEASE GIVE THIS TO ME). For the Kings, every game matters, and I think that they are focused on being the best possible version of themselves. Unfortunately, the Spurs are not a team to be trifled with. Coach Popp eats young, hungry teams for breakfast, and with a full rest day in between games, I think that San Antonio might be able to just edge out the up-and-coming Kings. Monday night West Coast games aren’t usually my jam, but Ozark Season 2 is in the books, and I’m looking for another television drama to capture my interest. If the Spurs get infiltrated by bats again, they might be able to fill my void. I can only pray.