The 4-5 Oklahoma City Thunder and the 1-8 Sacramento Kings have underachieved to start the season. Both teams will look to get back on track in Sacramento tonight (10pm ET Tuesday).
Oklahoma City’s main problem right now is inconsistency and an inability to win close games. The Thunder’s four wins have all come by at least 18 points, but their losses have all come by single digits.
Sacramento is a young team with some new pieces that needs time to mesh. The Kings have shown flashes of being a very solid team, but they have been short-lived.
Will the Thunder have any trouble disposing of the lowly Kings? Let’s examine that question by highlighting some keys to the game and previewing the outcome of the contest. Then we will make out pricks and betting predictions, scrutinizing the lines from the sportsbooks.
Can Rookie De’Aaron Fox Test Russell Westbrook’s Defense?
It has certainly been an up-and-down start to the season for Fox, the 19-year-old rookie point guard. He hardly has a jump shot, so he is relying on his blinding speed and strong finishing ability near the rim to contribute on offense. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t.
One thing is for sure, Fox can’t just sit back and let Westbrook relax on defense. The Thunder’s superstar point guard will occasionally use his athleticism to make plays on that end, but he is generally pretty lazy. In the Thunder’s most recent game, Westbrook let the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard torch him for 36 points and 13 assists.
Fox opens a lot of things up for his Kings teammates when he gets in the lane. Let’s see if he can do it on Tuesday.
Can the Thunder Put This Game Out of Reach Early?
The Thunder are easily a more talented team than they were last season. Adding Paul George and Carmelo Anthony has made the squad’s ceiling much higher and they will be better in the long run for it.
However, Oklahoma City is badly struggling in one area where it was strong in last year: crunch time. With three players (Russell Westbrook, George and Anthony) who are used to taking all the big shots, there’s a lack of ball movement happening at the end of games. It could take a while before they find a proper end-of-game balance.
OKC’s net rating in the clutch is the second-worst in the league right now, after the squad finished No. 2 in the league in that stat last year.
If the Kings can hang around until the fourth quarter tonight, they will have a decent chance of winning this one.
Can Kings Find Lineup Combinations That Stay Competitive on Glass and Offensive End?
A major reason the Kings are faring so poorly at the beginning of this season is their lack of tenacity on the boards. Sacramento is grabbing the second-lowest percentage of available rebounds in the NBA.
It seems most of the Kings’ top rebounders are weak offensive players, while most of their best offensive players are poor rebounders for their position. It is a difficult situation for head coach Dave Joerger.
Sacramento will need to find some combinations that work for both its offense and rebounding. If not, Oklahoma City will dominate them.
Our Preview’s Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Sacramento Kings Betting Picks & Predictions
The Thunder are obviously vastly superior to the Kings. However, with the Kings playing at home and with nothing to lose, I like their chances to either make this one close or close the gap in garbage time.
Sacramento has a somewhat deep roster, while the Thunder are weak after about eight players. There is some potential for the Kings bringing a 15- or 20-point deficit into single digits in the last several minutes of the game.
- The Thunder are pegged as 10-point favorites on the road with almost all major betting outlets. That’s a pretty big spread. Take the Kings at the current most advantageous spread of +10.5pts @ -119 with BetOnline.
- A medium to low over/under of 205 to 206 is posted for this game. Both of these teams are slow-paced with their offenses, and the Kings have been a bad offensive team thus far. Go with the under 206pts @ -115 with Bovada.