On Sunday evening in the East a better than advertised matchup between Sacramento and Washington will take place. The Kings record is mediocre, but they are near .500 against the spread, which has to interest those making NBA picks. In addition, Washington climbed over the breakeven point with their record for the first time since 2009 on Monday and looks to keep improving. Will either team be worthy of one of your sports picks today?
With Cousins, Sacramento is a Threat
When DeMarcus Cousins has been out of the lineup, the Kings are not the same team. The center is Sacramento’s top scorer, rebounder, shot-blocker and astonishingly, leads the team in assists.
Cousins was a problem child in first years in Sac-Town, but has played with greater maturity this season. When he was recently injured, the Kings played like jokers in losing seven straight, but since his return they are 2-1, playing much better basketball.
You might not ever win a NBA championship with Rudy Gay as a starter, but that does not mean he’s not an effective scorer. Granted, the reason Gay has been passed around the NBA like the bread basket at Olive Garden is his shot selection is that of a volume shooter, which was fine before offensive efficiency metric were developed.
Nonetheless, while Sacramento is only 17-33, they are 24-25-1 against the betting odds, when Cousins, Gay and guard Isaiah Thomas each throw down 20 points in one contest; the Kings are 4-2 this season.
Kings Defense has to Step Up
Sacramento is 28th in the NBA in points allowed at 103.7 per game. Part of the problem is the three players already mentioned are inferior defenders. Cousins has too many mental lapses playing defense, Gay is often inattentive and too casual playing on that side of the floor and Thomas is 5’9, making him a liability no matter how quick he is.
Pedestrian No Longer the Standard for the Wizards
Early this week Washington FINALLY climbed over the .500 mark, something they had not seen in five years. Having beaten Western Conference powers Oklahoma City, Portland and pushing San Antonio to double overtime before falling has proven to this team they can not only compete, but win games versus the better competition.
Yet when looking at the rest of the trifling Eastern Conference, Washington understands they could end up with the third-best record on this side of the bracket and start commanding more respect as guard John Wall explains.
“…..This is the first time we’re at a winning point of the season this early. We usually always wait until we go on a seven-, eight-game winning streak at the end of the season just to get 25, 26 wins. To be at that margin now is pretty good.” Wall said. “But we’re not satisfied. We know where want to be and the biggest thing is to take it one game at a time.”
Coach Randy Wittman also talked about rising about .500 as not an achievement, but rather a destination and wants his squad to thirst for more.
To take the next step, the Wizards have to learn to protect the home court. As NBA basketball handicappers are aware, Washington is 12-13 with a 9-15-1 ATS mark, which will not cut it for a team aspiring to rise above the crowd. This contest is an opportunity for Wittman’s squad and they need to seize it.
Betting OddsThe sportsbooks released Washington as a five-point favorite with a total of 204 on the basketball odds board for this evening affair.
The final two stops on Sacramento’s Eastern swing are at Cleveland and New York before heading home for the All-Star break.
Washington needs this contest with two tough road tussles in consecutive nights starting Tuesday at Memphis and at Houston.
Head to Head Meetings
The Kings have won four of the past five (4-1 ATS) and pulled off two outright upsets in the nation’s capital over the Wizards. The past two get-togethers have both gone UNDER the number.
With Rudy Gay 50-50 to play, I say this makes Washington the more attractive choice for our basketball picks and the Wizards get back to .500 for the ninth time this season.
Free NBA Pick: Washington minus the points