Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 02:00 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
Sacramento over Houston
8:00 PM EST. Two days ago the Sacramento Kings traveled to Houston to face the Rockets and boy was it a stinker for last year's Cinderella-team. Through five games the Kings are just 2-3, that's a good sign for our under bet on the Sacramento win total (44½), but it's probably not what last season's #3 seed in the West must've expected early in November. They've already lost twice to the Warriors, their arch-enemy and the grown-up version of themselves, and the team that knocked them out of the first round of the playoffs last Spring. On Saturday they played without their star, DeAaron Fox, and they tried to win by utilizing more of their bench. Experimental games like that often fail in the modern NBA, especially against a resurgent Rockets' team with new coach Ime Udoka and some fresh new talent. That's okay - the Kings will get their second shot tonight.
For one, the Kings only shot a lowly 38% from the field and 27% from beyond the arc last Saturday, both marks that are well-below the average of last season's most potent offense. We also know they can win without Fox. Sacramento has had to make these concessions before, and they got better at playing without their star point guard in 9 games where he didn't suit up last year. Seasoned veterans and Kings' scorers like Harrison Barnes, Malik Monk, Domontas Sabonis and others have stepped up in these situations.
The Rockets got physical with Sacramento in game one, bullying them in the paint, outrebounding the away team, and shooting well-beyond what we'd forecast to be their norm. Dillon Brooks, of all guys, had a 26-point game and led Houston to a win. Yawn.
But this game isn't about the Rockets. Sure they might be improved this year with Brooks and Freddie VanFleet and Reggie Bullock Jr. as they look to turn the page on a new franchise feel, but they still have plenty to work through in their rotations. Udoka needs time to turn Houston into a winning operation, and they're probably lucky to have won at all through five contests (the other win was against Charlotte, a team that still can't figure out how to play defense).
This is about a good Kings' team with the same parts as last year's roster and a coach who knows how to find wins. It helps that Sacramento has a home-game against Portland, aka no lookahead spot, so there's nothing scary or difficult about the schedule setup. Last season, the Kings were the best ATS team in the NBA after a loss (23-14). The better program wins and covers tonight.
Sacramento -2 -110 (Risking 2.2 units - To Win: 2.00)