Can the Sacramento Kingsteam now beat its closest geographical neighbor and rival, the Golden State Warriors? The odds suggest it’s doubtful as they’re an 11-point dog on the road on Monday.
The Sacramento Kings Can Win Because…
Their interim head coaching situation has not led to a collapse or an abandonment of belief. The puzzling firing of head coach Michael Malone could have set off a total implosion that would have sent the Kings into a state of freefall. However, Sacramento beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday to show that the players on the roster are still convinced they can make something of their season. Sacramento was very strong in the first three weeks of the season, playing a much higher level of defense than it had managed to in several previous seasons of drift and decay. DeMarcus Cousins was a reborn player, committing not just to his offense but also to his defense. The Kings got a tougher and more prudent version of Rudy Gay, who played a more physical style of offense by posting up defenders instead of just shooting jump shots without working the ball toward the basket. The Kings were above .500 for awhile, so their progress under Malone – despite regression in early December – suggested that this team was capable of doing good things. This recent win over the Lakers – who had been playing a lot better in their own right over the previous two weeks – shows that Sacramento still has a level of fight which did not exist last season. The Kings’ point differential is negative, but it’s under two-thirds of a point (minus-0.6 points). In the deep Western Conference, that’s really not bad. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. The Kings are almost a .500 team on the road, at 5-6. They are not a pushover when they go away from home.
The Golden State Warriors Can Win Because…
They're the best team in the NBA. The Western Conference is clearly superior to the Eastern Conference, with 11 teams, maybe even 12, that would all qualify for one of the eight best records in the East and a playoff appearance. Golden State is the best team in the Western Conference, especially with second-place Memphis losing two games in a row. Every team in the NBA has lost at least six games, with the exception of the Warriors, which have lost only three. This team is 9-1 in its last 10 games, but a team that’s 22-3 has been on one long tear, without any real interruption in its level of play. The Warriors have an outrageously good point differential, at 9.8 points. Realize how good that is: The Warriors are just two tenths of a point short of averaging a double-digit win in every game they play. This is through 25 games, not 10 or 15 or some other very small sample size. The Warriors have an elite offense combined with a strong defense. They have no real weakness at this point and are 9-1 at home on the season.
The Warriors are a comprehensively better team, and they’re playing at home against a Sacramento team that’s 3-7 in its last 10 games. Take Golden State with your NBA picks.
Free NBA Pick: Golden State -12 (-105) at 5Dimes