Go Low in Gritty, Ugly Spurs-Kings Clash

Jay Pryce

Saturday, December 23, 2017 3:23 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 3:23 PM UTC

The Spurs-Kings clash as Golden 1 Center Saturday night (10 p.m. ET) is expected to be low scoring with oddsmakers setting a 195.5 game total. We expect an ugly, gritty game with a combined score even lower.

San Antonio Spurs (-7.5) at Sacramento KingsFree NBA Pick: Under 195.5Best Line Offered: at Wagerweb

Spurs (22-11 SU, 17-15-1 ATS)

Leonard Easing In, Poor Road Offense

Two-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard is still working his way to into game shape. After missing San Antonio’s first 27 contests with a hurt quadriceps, the two-way star has not logged more than 20 minutes in four played. Moreover, Leonard has sat out two other games for rest. The reps are increasing, but his impact still minimal for the Spurs and their performance in the betting market at this point. Leonard is averaging 10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in 17.3 minutes. Look for him to push 25 minutes of playtime in Sacramento.

The Spurs are in dire need of offense on the road. They average 95.2 points per game on 43.7 percent shooting. The drop-off from last season is eye opening. The Spurs put up 105.0 on 46.6 percent from the floor during the 2016-17 regular season. San Antonio, in fact, has hit the century mark in just four of 16 away trips. Three of these have come against defenses allowing more than the NBA average of 105.1 points. The final tally dips to 93.7 points per game against better. The Kings surrender 105.0 per game.

Kings (11-20 SU, 14-15-2 ATS)

Fox Out, Kings Will Miss

Sacramento announced Friday rookie guard De’Aaron Fox is out at least two weeks with a partially torn quad muscle. The number five overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft injured it in a 101-95 win in Philadelphia Tuesday.

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An MRI conducted today at @KPGreaterSac revealed @swipathefox has a partial tear in his right quadriceps muscle.

Fox will miss next 2 weeks and then be re-evaluated. pic.twitter.com/Dky41TGJTR

— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) December 23, 2017

Fox’s numbers do not jump off the stat sheet: 9.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 0.9 steals in 25.1 minutes per game. His presence, however, makes a difference. Fox started just four of Sacramento’s first 17 games at point guard. It went 4-13 SU and 5-10-2 ATS overall. Since November 22, he’s represented the first team in each played. The Kings are 7-7 SU and 9-5 ATS since.

The big improvement is on offense. Sacramento is averaging 100.5 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting in this span. Before Fox earned the starting gig, the team put up 93.2 on 42.6 percent from the floor. Fox’s numbers have actually dipped in this stretch, but the team is becoming more comfortable with one another and player shifts more productive. Consistency and chemistry is key here with personnel rotations. Fox’s absence could disrupt a good thing the Kings have going.

Points will be at a premium tonight. Only the Knicks have a worst offense on the road than the Spurs efficiency-wise in the NBA. San Antonio scores 100.7 points per 100 possessions, 100.3 for New York. Sacramento, meanwhile, posts 91.3 points per game at home in six hosting an opponent with a positive point differential on the year. San Antonio enters with a 2.6 average winning margin, sixth best in the league. The Kings, in fact, have never scored more than 100 points in this spot. They will surely come up short tonight against a strong Spurs defense and needing time to adjust to Fox’s absence (Frank Mason will fill the void primarily). One of these teams will likely not get out of the 80-point range in a gritty, ugly game. For my free NBA pick, I say grab ‘under’ 195.5 as your best bet.

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