The Sacramento Kings might be crumbling. A team that played so well in the first three weeks of the season is showing signs that it won’t be able to hang in for the long run. A crucial game awaits the Kings on Friday, as they try to put a stop to their losing ways. The Kings are a small three-point favorite on the NBA betting lnes.
The Indiana Pacers Can Win Because…
Their defense can stop Sacramento’s offense. The Pacers are not a good offensive team without Paul George and Lance Stephenson, but they can still play defense, and it’s what’s kept the team competitive enough to be ninth in the Eastern Conference; and just out of a playoff spot through the first 18 games of the season. The Pacers give up just 96.4 points per game this season, and that has kept them afloat. The Pacers were outgunned by a loaded Phoenix offense on Tuesday night, but Sacramento is not as good as Phoenix or the other teams in the West who can expose Indiana. The Kings are 4-6 in their last 10 games and have lost the confidence which marked the first three weeks of the season. Sacramento does average 101.6 points per game, but Indiana can attack the Kings’ offense and succeed largely by avoiding fouling. One thing Sacramento did well earlier in the season was have Rudy Gay take the ball into the post and draw contact, but Indiana is too smart and schooled on defense to allow something like that to happen. Sacramento scored just 85 points on Sunday in a loss to Memphis, a team which plays great defense. Indiana can grind down Sacramento’s offense as well. Pacer coach Frank Vogel preaches effort on defense, and his team could win if it is able to defend at a high level against the Kings.
The Sacramento Kings Can Win Because…
Before you place your NBA pick, keep in mind that the Kings are facing an opponent that just can’t score. The Pacers might play defense well, but even though they play very hard and have not given up on their season despite the loss of their superstar (George), they still can’t put the ball in the basket very often. The Indiana Pacers average 93.7 points per game. That’s 25th in the league, and it’s just a few tenths of a point away from being 27th. There’s no player on the Indiana roster who can explosively and athletically attack the basket with great quickness and agility. This is a jump-shooting team with limited options in terms of finding creative ways to score. Sacramento has slipped on defense, but if there’s a team which will make the Kings breathe easier on offense, Indiana is certainly one of the three or four teams you’d put at the top of the list. (Oklahoma City has the next to worst offense in the league, but that is already changing with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook being back.) Indiana has not been that great, either, losing half of its last 10 games. It’s not as though the Pacers are setting a better pace than the Kings – not enough to matter, anyway.
The Pacers have been better than expected in many ways as they were 7-11 entering Thursday and are 4-4 in their last eight games. Sacramento has dropped four straight games but those losses came to very good teams like Houston (on the road), San Antonio (road), Memphis and Toronto. They’ve had a couple of days to figure things out and should cover the NBA odds here. The Pacers are in a tough spot in a back-to-back and playing their third game in four nights all on the road.
NBA Pick: Sacramento -3 at 5Dimes