It's the second of a back-to-back on a West Coast trip for Milwaukee as the Bucks are in Sacramento on Thursday night and the Kings are expecting back their best player. Sacramento is a 6-point favorite on BetOnline NBA odds with a total of 204.
Bucks Reeling from Parker Loss
It has been a really lousy week for Milwaukee (13-13), which thought it might be a playoff team this season after finishing with an NBA-worst 15 victories in 2013-14. In Monday's last-second win in Phoenix, Bucks rookie Jabari Parker, the No. 2 overall pick out of Duke, went down with a knee injury when it buckled on a drive to the basket when Parker collided with the Suns' P.J. Tucker. It didn't look good at the time as Parker had to be carried off by teammates. Still, the Bucks were hopeful it was just a sprain after X-rays were negative. However, an MRI on Tuesday revealed the worst: torn ACL. That means Parker's season is obviously over.
Parker was the favorite at sportsbooks to win NBA Rookie of the Year honors. I liked him back in the preseason for that, but in a recent story in which I wrote about updated NBA player props odds, I had shifted my preference to Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins. He's the clear favorite now. Parker averaged 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 29.5 minutes in 25 games. Obviously there's now a long-term worry for Parker as it can often take two full years to recover from an ACL tear. Just ask Derrick Rose, another young star from Chicago like Parker.
Not surprisingly, the Bucks lost their first game without Parker, 104-97 in Portland on Wednesday, which influences my NBA pick. Jared Dudley started in Parker's place and was just 1-for-5 for 3 points in 27 minutes. The Bucks weren't exactly an offensive powerhouse even with Parker, the team's second-leading scorer. To make matters worse, the Bucks' other young promising player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, sprained his left ankle in the first half against Portland. The good news is that the injury isn't serious and there's a chance he plays against the Kings. The "Greek Freak" averages 12.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
Milwaukee is a terrific 18-8 against the NBA betting spread this season and 13-13 'over/under.'
Good News for Kings
Sacramento has played the past 10 games without by far its best player, center DeMarcus Cousins, who was having an All-Star caliber season. He had viral meningitis and the Kings were 2-8 without him. However, Cousins practiced on Wednesday and should return in this game, although his minutes certainly will be limited as Cousins works on his conditioning.
Sacramento enters on a four-game losing streak. It fell 104-92 to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, the Kings' third straight home loss. Sacramento had 19 turnovers that led to 26 points for the Thunder. That was also Sacramento's first game since Coach Mike Malone was surprisingly fired over the weekend. Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and General Manager Pete D'Alessandro apparently wanted a more up-tempo, offense-oriented system. Malone was more a defensive guy. Former Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin is the interim guy. Ranadive has this crazy notion of playing 4-on-5 when the Kings are on defense and having a cherry picker back for potential easy baskets. Corbin didn't use that in Tuesday's game but if the owner wants it, the coach really has no choice. Corbin won't get the full-time job. The Kings really wanted team advisor Chris Mullin to take over, but he didn't want to do it midseason. The Kings also talked to former Warriors coach Mark Jackson.
The Kings need point guard Darren Collison to shake out of his mini-slump to beat the Bucks. Collison, the club's big offseason addition, is a combined 3-for-18 from the field for nine points in the past two games. He's having a solid year overall, averaging 15.6 points and 6.2 assists.
Sacramento is 13-12 against the spread and 12-13 'over/under' on NBA odds.
Sacramento won both games against the Bucks. Former King Isaiah Thomas, whom Collison replaced, averaged 27.5 points in the two games. Cousins averaged 26.5 points and 11.0 rebounds and Rudy Gay 23.0 points. Brandon Knight, the Bucks' leading scorer this year, averaged 15.5 points and 6.5 assists vs. Sacramento. O.J. Mayo was at 14.5 ppg.
NBA Free Picks: Sacramento -6 and 'over' at BookMaker. The team will be boosted by Cousins' return. The Bucks are still swooning with Parker's loss. The Kings are 7-1 ATS in their past eight following a loss of more than 10 points. The 'over' is 4-1 in the past five meetings.