The Sacramento Kings enjoyed one of their finest seasons in years in 2018-19. Head coach Dave Joerger finally seemed to get the franchise to take the next step, which was no small things. The quality campaign didn’t result in a playoff berth, but there was plenty of reason to be optimistic last season if you’re a Kings fan.
However, for some reason, that wasn’t good enough for the team’s management. Sacramento wound up surprisingly firing Joerger and replacing him with Luke Walton, who had recently been fired himself by the Los Angeles Lakers. Sacramento has dealt with injuries so far this season, but the results haven’t been particularly good thus far for Walton through his first couple of months at the helm.
The Kings will head east to take on the Pacers in Indianapolis tonight. Indiana is one of the most pleasant surprises in the league. They’re off to a very strong 19-9 start despite the fact that the face of their franchise hasn’t played in a game in almost a calendar year. The Pacers are still waiting for Victor Oladipo to return from his torn quad. The injury happened way back on January 23, and he still has no timetable to return to action.
The line for Friday night’s tilt initially opened as Pacers -5.5, but it has since dropped by a point at MyBookie. The game also has an implied total of 207 points.
2019 ATS Home
2019 ATS Away
2019 O/U Home
2019 O/U Away
Sacramento ranked among the league leaders in pace last season, but so far this year they’re dead-last in the same category. Some of that has to do with Walton changing the offensive scheme that Joerger had employed, but most of that has to do with the fact that star point guard De’Aaron Fox has missed the vast majority of the season due to injury.
Fox finally returned to the lineup for the Kings’ last game, a 110-102 loss in Charlotte. The third-year guard played off the bench, but he logged 30 minutes and didn’t look like he’d missed a beat. The Kentucky product put up 19 points and 8 assists in those 30 minutes., while starter Cory Joseph logged just 21.
We’ll see if Fox returns to the starting lineup tonight in Indiana, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t. His presence changes the Kings’ identity completely, and it’s somewhat remarkable that they’re just 5 games under .500 despite him having played just 10 games all year.
Fox will be tasked with even more responsibility tonight if Bogdan Bogdanovic winds up missing out. Bogdanovic is essentially Sacramento’s secondary ball-handler these days, but he’s currently listed as questionable to play tonight with an ankle issue.
The Sacramento Kings are 22nd in offensive rating and 18th in defensive rating thus far, which isn’t a combination you want if you’re striving to make the playoffs. There’s a chance the Kings have already dug themselves into too deep a hole in the deep Western Conference, but there is still plenty of time left in the season. I expect the offense to get a little more impressive now that Fox is back in the fold, but I’m not at all convinced that their defense can hack it at a postseason level on a game-in, game-out basis.
Indiana’s 2-Man Show
As mentioned, the Pacers haven’t missed a beat despite Oladipo’s absence. The team’s decision to sign Malcolm Brogdon to a hefty contract over the summer is looking smarter by the day. You can say the same about their choice to give Domantas Sabonis a contract extension rather than trading him before the beginning of the season.
The Pacers have a middling offense that ranks 14th in the league in offensive rating, but they get the job done by slowing the pace and suffocating their opponents defensively. Indiana is a very respectable fourth in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing just 101.5 points per 100 possessions. Only the Bucks, Raptors and Lakers have been stingier to this point.
The Pacers do have some injury concerns tonight, as both of their starting wings, TJ Warren and Jeremy Lamb, are listed as questionable. If one or both of them sit out, expect more minutes for guys like Aaron Holiday, Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott. That would also open up even more offensive responsibility for Brogdon, who already leads the Pacers in usage rate.
This spread looks too low given the discrepancy in quality between these teams. While I do think the Kings will be more competitive on a nightly basis with Fox back in the mix, the Pacers have been incredibly tough at home. Indy is 12-3 straight-up on their home floor this season. Even if Lamb, Warren or both miss this game, I think the Pacers still have enough firepower to take it to Sacramento in this one. I don’t know why the spread has gotten smaller, but as of now I like Indiana to cover.
There’s some meat on the bone of that 4.5-point spread, so give me the Pacers tonight.
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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