Still A Successful
Season For Suns
The Suns were supposed to be one of the "tankers" this season yet could win 48 games; they are guaranteed to be only the fifth team in league history to win 47 games and not play in the postseason. It's a shame that the Suns aren't in the Eastern Conference as Phoenix could finish with the same record as the third-best team in the ultra-weak East. Rookie coach Jeff Hornacek is a leading contender for Coach of the Year and guard Goran Dragic is for Most Improved Player of the Year.
Phoenix (51-29-1 ATS, 39-39-3 O/U at sportsbooks) unfortunately slumped at the worst possible time in losing three straight, all to playoff teams. Memphis won in Phoenix 97-91 to clinch the West's final playoff spot Monday. It didn't help the Suns' cause they were 0-4 against the Grizzlies in 2013-14. Dragic has been terrific (20.3 points, 5.9 assists, 50.5 percent shooting from the field) but wore down a bit at the end when the Suns needed him most. He missed last Friday's loss in San Antonio with an ankle injury, was held to 13 points in Saturday's loss in Dallas and just 14 Monday against Memphis. He won't play against Sacramento. Look for heavy minutes for rookies Archie Goodwin and Alex Len.
The Suns actually have four other Most Improved candidates in Eric Bledsoe (18.0 ppg, 5.5 apg), Gerald Green (15.5 ppg), Markieff Morris (13.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Miles Plumlee (8.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg). Think what this team might have done if Bledsoe hadn't missed nearly 40 games due to injury. He's a restricted free agent this summer but there's no way the Suns let him get away. Phoenix could be very active this offseason with some tradable assets, including three first-round picks (its, Indiana's and Washington's).
Kings star DeMarcus Cousins will miss this game. He got his 16th technical foul of the season, earning an automatic one-game suspension, in Sunday's win against Minnesota. Cousins was a beast against the Wolves with 35 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. He finishes the season averaging 22.7 points and 11.7 rebounds and set the Kings single-season record with 53 double-doubles.
It's questionable whether Rudy Gay will play in this one for Sacramento (37-41-3 ATS, 37-42-2 O/U at sportsbooks). He has missed three of the past four games with a lower back sprain. The bigger question is whether Gay will be a King next season. He has a player option for $19.3 million and says he hasn't decided whether he will take it or opt out. The Kings would prefer he not take it.
Sacramento recently gave Cousins a big new extension and point guard Isaiah Thomas will be a restricted free agent, so Gay taking the option might mean the club can't afford Thomas. He had missed 10 straight games with a right quad contusion before returning Sunday against the Wolves. Thomas is one of the NBA's most improved players this year too. The 2011 No. 60 overall pick out of Washington is averaging 20.6 points and 6.3 assists. Last year he was at 13.9 and 4.0, respectively.
Kings rookie Ben McLemore, chosen No. 7 overall out of Kansas, has been a mild disappointment, but the team has started giving him heavy minutes in April, and he's gotten a bit better. McLemore is averaging 11.4 points on 36.6 minutes a night this month but still is way too erratic with his jumper.
Sacramento leads 2-1 and the teams haven't played since Dec. 13. Gay was still a Toronto Raptor for the first two meetings. Thomas averaged 23.7 points in the three. Cousins 20.3 points and 13.3 rebounds. Bledsoe played in just one of the games for the Suns and had 28 points. Dragic averaged 23.3 points in the three.
NBA Free Picks: Kings +2 and the over 206.5 points. Sacramento is 12-5 in its past 17 home games against teams with a winning record. It's likely the Suns aren't going to have anything left in the tank after Monday's crushing defeat. The over is 5-0-1 in the past six meetings.