One of the most lopsided "rivalries" in the NBA for years has been when Sacramento and San Antonio square off. The Spurs are 11.5-point favorites on NBA odds with a total of 200.5
Cousins Back for Kings
I'm not saying that Sacramento is anywhere near a playoff-caliber team or anything, but it's pretty evident that All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins makes quite a difference when he's in the lineup. When I previewed the Kings' game at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks on Tuesday here at SBR, Cousins was questionable after missing the previous two games. I said to take the Kings if he played and New York if not.
Cousins returned and the Kings (21-37) handed the Knicks their worst loss of the season, 124-86. Cousins had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Rudy Gay 25 points and Ben McLemore 20. All three of those guys got the entire fourth quarter off so that should help a bit for this game. Sacramento is 2-12 without Cousins this season and 19-25 with him. The team announced that starting point guard Darren Collison had successful surgery for a core muscle on Tuesday and will miss six weeks, so he's clearly done for the year.
Sacramento is 24-32-2 against the spread this season and 30-28 'over/under' on NBA odds.
Spurs Have Tough Road to Repeat
San Antonio (36-23) remains in seventh place in the Western Conference. With 23 games left in the regular season, the Spurs would have to win 14 of them to extend their NBA-record streak of 50-win seasons, which is currently at 16 straight. Yes, they even hit 50 wins (exactly) in the 66-game lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign.
The Spurs have followed a season-high four-game losing streak with double-digit road wins in Sacramento and Phoenix. Saturday's 101-74 victory in the desert was easily one of San Antonio's best efforts of the year. The Suns had a franchise-low 24 first-half points and trailed by 27. It was the second largest margin of victory this season for Coach Gregg Popovich's team. It was also the end of the Spurs' nine-game rodeo road trip. They finished 4-5, their first losing rodeo trip since it began in 2003, and are 16-16 overall on the road. The team hasn't finished below .500 on the road in 18 years.
The good news is that this game starts a six-game homestand and the Spurs' remaining schedule is home heavy. The bad news is split into two parts. The first is that San Antonio point guard Tony Parker doesn't look right. In the past five games he has scored double-figure points only once and is averaging 6.8 points on horrid 26.0 percent shooting and just 4.0 assists in that stretch. The second warning sign is that San Antonio better finish higher than seventh in the West if it wants to repeat as NBA champion. No team seeded seventh or worse has ever won the NBA title and the only one to reach the Finals was the 1999 eighth-seeded Knicks that were ousted in five games by San Antonio.
Currently the Spurs are +530 third-favorites on 5Dimes NBA futures odds to win the West and +1000 to win the NBA title. They are 25-32-2 against the NBA betting spread this season and 26-33 'over/under.'
One of the NBA's most surprising results early in the season was Sacramento's 94-91 home win over San Antonio. Why? The Spurs had won nine straight vs. the Kings and 21 of the past 22 games. Cousins had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Manu Ginobili led San Antonio with 21 points. The Kings had dropped their previous 11 home games to the Spurs, dating to 2007. The Spurs have taken the next two. They won 112-104 on Nov. 28, their 14th home win in the past 15 in this series. Parker had 27 points and eight assists. Popovich missed that game, as did Cousins. Gay led the Kings with 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Last Friday, San Antonio won 107-96 in Sacramento as a 9.5-point favorite at sportsbooks. That was Parker's only good game in the past five as he had 19 points. The Spurs had just six turnovers and made 29 of 32 free throws. Cousins was out injured. McLemore led Sacramento with 21 points.
NBA Free Picks: Go San Antonio -11.5 on NBA odds and 'over' 200.5 points. The Kings are 1-5 ATS in their past six road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The over is 6-2 in Sacramento's past eight in the second of a back-to-back. The 'over' is 4-1 in San Antonio's past five at home following a road trip of at least seven days. The 'over' is 8-2 in the past 10 meetings in San Antonio.