The Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings bookended the Pacific Division a season ago. Phoenix topped the division on their way to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993, while Sacramento finished in last place for the first time since 2012. The Suns began this season among the betting favorites to win the Western Conference once again, while the Kings are just looking to finish above .500. Sacramento hasn’t enjoyed a winning regular season since 2005.
Of course, a new season means a fresh start for both clubs. Phoenix has gotten off to a surprisingly rocky 1-2 start, which includes an embarrassing 29-point loss in their most recent game in Portland over the weekend. The Kings are just 1-2 themselves, but they have looked competitive. Sacramento’s three games have all come against teams likely to make the playoffs again this season, and they’ll face another stiff test tonight against the Suns in the desert.
While the Suns haven’t gotten off to the brightest start, Phoenix is still heavily favored to get back into the win column tonight at BetOnline. Phoenix is an eight-point road favorite in a game that features an over/under of 225 points.
Kings vs. Suns Betting Odds
Over 225 points (-106)
Under 225 points (-114)
The Kings have quietly compiled a nice collection of young talent in recent years, but we’re still waiting for this team to make its move. Sacramento hasn’t finished better than third in the Pacific since 2004-05, and they haven’t won this division since 2002-03. The Kings’ last playoff season was ’05, as well.
There are some building blocks, though. De’Aaron Fox is a budding star, while Tyrese Haliburton was one of the more impressive rookies in the league last season. Richaun Holmes re-signed with the team this summer on a bargain contract, while rookie guard Davion Mitchell already looks like a keeper. Role players like Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and Maurice Harkless give Luke Walton decent depth on the wings and in the frontcourt.
Will it all finally come together this year? Possibly. One issue is that the Pacific is absolutely loaded. Phoenix, both LA teams, and Golden State all look like playoff locks already, and there are only eight playoff spots available in the West. It’s hard to imagine the Kings leapfrogging enough other teams to punch a postseason ticket, but perhaps they can exceed expectations. Sacramento has gotten off to a passable start despite the fact that Fox and Haliburton haven’t really gotten it going. Fox is averaging just 18.7 points per game on dreadful shooting after averaging better than 25 points per game last year. Haliburton, who is contributing just 8.3 points per game on dreadful 22.2 percent shooting from deep, has been even worse.
Both will come around eventually. Tonight’s matchup against a capable Suns defense is a difficult one, but the Kings will have an advantage if they can push the tempo. Sacramento is running at the eighth-fastest pace in basketball so far this season at 104.8 possessions per game. The Suns, with Paul running the show, prefer to slow things down and operate in the halfcourt. If the Kings can dictate the pace in this one, they may be able to get Phoenix out of their comfort zone.
The core of last year’s Western Conference championship team is back this season for the Suns. Chris Paul and Mikal Bridges inked lucrative contract extensions over the summer, but Deandre Ayton’s future with the franchise looks murky. Phoenix added some quality depth to their bench with the acquisitions of Landry Shamet, JaVale McGee, and Elfrid Payton this offseason.
Frankly, nothing went right for the Suns on Saturday night in Portland. Phoenix trailed by 20 points at the half, and they were outscored in every quarter by the Trail Blazers. The team’s usually-reliable defense allowed the Blazers to shoot better than 54 percent from the field and convert 21 of their 50 attempts from three-point range. Paul and Ayton were complete non-factors offensively.
When they’re right, the Suns are a stingy defensive team that spreads the wealth offensively. Phoenix surrounds Paul, Ayton, and Devin Booker with shooters at all times, and the ball is constantly moving. The pick-and-roll is predictably a huge part of the offensive system around CP3, and the Suns are tough to beat when they’re knocking down their open looks. The Suns converted nearly 38 percent of their triples last season, which ranked tied for the sixth-best mark in the NBA.
Phoenix is shooting threes at a 34 percent clip through the first three games of the new season, and it’s worth wondering whether fatigue could be a factor. This team did just play deep into the playoffs, and Booker helped lead Team USA to the gold medal at the Summer Olympics shortly thereafter. Phoenix ranked an impressive ninth in the league in defensive efficiency last season, holding their opponents to 108.8 points per 100 possessions. We’re dealing with a small sample, but the Suns have plunged to 29th in that same category through the first three games of 2021-22. Opponents are piling up better than 114 points for every 100 possessions against the Suns so far this year.
Phoenix went 2-1 in three regular-season meetings against the Kings a season ago, including a 1-1 mark in the two games played in the California capital. Sacramento picked up a three-point win in the first matchup before the Suns ran away with a 16-point victory a day later in the rematch. Phoenix also collected a 122-114 win over the Kings toward the end of the campaign in April.
Kings vs. Suns NBA Pick
An eight-point spread is a big number in the NBA. Phoenix is a battle-tested side, but the Kings look pesky early in the year. Last year, when the team finished just 31-41 overall, the Kings posted an impressive 21-15 record on the road against the spread. The Suns were one of the best ATS home teams in the league last season, but they also vastly exceeded preseason expectations. It took a while for NBA betting sites to realize the Suns were as good as they turned out to be.
Still, I’m not convinced the gap between these teams should be as wide as it is. The Suns are still working to get their legs under them after a long season, while the Kings’ young core is hungry to prove that they’re capable of making some noise in the West. As much as I’d love to grab the upside in the Kings’ +280 moneyline odds, I’m much more comfortable backing Sacramento to cover in this one. Take Kings +8 on the road.
Over/Under: Over 225 points (-106), Under 225 points (-114)
Prediction: Kings +8 (-116)
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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