Kings vs. Warriors Series Odds & Betting Preview: NBA Playoffs Picks for the Beam vs. the Dynasty
(left to right) Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images and Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured (left to right): Keegan Murray of the Sacramento Kings and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
Light the Beam vs. the Reigning Champs. It does not get better than this.
The Sacramento Kings are back in the playoffs for the first time in 17 years, and what’s their reward? The defending champion Golden State Warriors coming in for a first-round series where the Kings are underdogs despite being a better team by any regular-season measure and holding home-court advantage.
Congrats, Kings! 🥳
There are series the public will have more excitement for, but this certainly appears on the surface to be the one bettors are circling. Strong opinions have been given, and sides are being taken.
Can the Kings be the first team to send a squad that has Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green available in every game of the series home for the first time since 2014? Or will the Warriors be just the second team in NBA history to lose 30 road games in the regular season and advance past the first round?
Let’s bet Warriors-Kings!
The Most Important Thing: The Warriors’ Starters Dominate
This is a pretty well-distributed stat, but if you haven’t heard it, you need to.
The Warriors’ intended starting lineup of Curry, Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Green and Kevon Looney has played just 331 minutes together this season. In those minutes, they have the best net rating in the league, outscoring opponents by 21.9 points per 100 possessions. They destroy teams. They annihilate opponents.
That lineup was somehow better vs. the Kings this season despite the Warriors losing the season series. That lineup was +31.4 in net rating against Sacramento.
When Curry was on the floor against the Kings, the Warriors outscored them by 15 points per 100 possessions. They blew them out.
So, how did the Kings go 3-1 against them?
Easy. The Warriors’ bench. Specifically, the Warriors’ bench with James Wiseman. In the three games this season before the final meeting (which was a wonky late-season game), the Warriors were outscored by 45 points per 100 possessions (!!!) when Curry was on the bench.
The final figures in those three games:
- With Curry: Warriors +39
- Without Curry: Warriors -38
- Net: Warriors +1 (despite going 1-2 in those games).
Starters play more in the playoffs, Curry will play more in this series, and the Warriors have dominated the Kings’ starters.
Domantas Sabonis’ numbers, in particular, are dreadful against Golden State. The Kings can’t switch effectively, which means Golden State will run pick-and-roll at Sabonis over and over.
Here are three different coverages Curry will see. In the first clip, it’s a soft drop, and he’s easily able to get to that long push shot of his. Against the switch, Curry’s going to get to the pull-up 3 which is the stuff of nightmares.
The third clip, though, is interesting. Sabonis blitzes, and the result is a turnover. I wonder how much the Kings will try and use this and just blitz him. The problem is that you have two problems the minute you do:
- The Warriors have 4-on-3, and they are the most dangerous team in that situation between Thompson’s shooting and Green’s playmaking.
- Curry will immediately sprint to scramble the defense, leaving either Sabonis scrambling to recover inside or chasing Curry.
Let’s go back to that Warriors starting lineup. It was the best in the league, and yet the Warriors were just 14-13 with that lineup before Wiggins missed time due to personal reasons.
However, while everyone knows the Warriors are the worst road team in the NBA (and ATS the worst road team in NBA history potentially), I found something interesting.
Curry-Thompson-Green-Looney has an absolutely stellar defensive rating of 109.6 on the road. They were still an elite defensive team with those four on the court, even on the road, despite being 28th in overall defense on the road this season.
All of this adds up to the fact that the Warriors’ best is significantly better overall than the Kings’.
The Pendulum: Keegan Murray
The rookie is being tasked with a lot in this series.
He’ll have to stay focused on off-ball switches, maintain containment on-ball on switches and knock down 3s. Murray was a rare King to have won his minutes vs. the Warriors this season and had the second most 3-pointers attempted and most 3-pointers made vs. Golden State.
If Murray is able to rise to the occasion and continue his torrid shooting, that gives the Kings their best shot in this series: simply overwhelming the Warriors with offense.
Malik Monk is another one to watch.
The Kings are going to need to be killer in the minutes when Curry isn’t on the floor. Mike Brown would do well to counter-play against non-Curry lineups with Monk and Murray to apply pressure on the Warriors to give their starters heavy minutes in an attempt to wear them down.
The Mirage: The Kings’ Horrible Defense (On the Road)
At home, the Kings defense is horrible. Legit terrible. They’re 29th, giving up 119.4 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass.
But on the road, where the Kings were the only Western Conference team with a winning record this season? They have the eighth-best defense, giving up 114.9 per 100 possessions in non-garbage time.
Now, this runs into how much better the Warriors are at home, but it will put a little bit of value on the under in the Warriors’ home games, which will still have sky-high totals.
The Bet: Warriors -1.5 Series Spread
Most of this stems from my Game 1 read. The Kings are going to be home, where they’ve been great and the Warriors have been terrible, in front of a desperate, intense crowd for their first playoff game in 17 years with an extremely inexperienced team in terms of the playoffs.
The common thought is that the crowd and atmosphere will be so great that it will lift them.
One of the best atmospheres we’ve seen in the last decade was the Raptors’ first return trip to the playoffs with the Kyle Lowry-DeMar DeRozan team in 2014. Jurassic Park was berserk. The crowd was amazing.
FINAL: Nets 94, Raptors 87
It’s a lot of pressure. If the Warriors get off to a good start in a late game with a lot of pregame carousing, the crowd can turn frustrated.
The Warriors take one of the first two, and they’re back. Kings take Game 2, Warriors handle business in Games 3 and 4 and by then, the Kings are out of ideas.
I think Warriors -2.5 (+195) has some value as well, and I’ll bet that, too. I cannot look at this matchup and believe the Kings are ready for what’s coming their way. It’s been an amazing season for the Kings. History is on their side in terms of seedings.
But these are the Warriors, and until someone stops them, they are the team you can trust.
Pick: Warriors -1.5 (-168)
- Draymond Green to Lead Series in Assists (DraftKings)
- Malik Monk Over 3s
- Keegan Murray Over 3s
- Overs in Kings Home Games
- Unders in Warriors Home Games
More NBA Playoff Content
- Cavaliers vs. Knicks Series Preview
- 76ers vs. Nets Series Preview
- Kings-Warriors Playoffs Odds Making Betting History
- LeBron James’ History as an Underdog
- Road to the Finals: Can the Warriors Repeat?
- Road to the Finals: How to Bet the Celtics?
- How Parity Impacts the Western Conference
- What History Says About Teams in the Middle
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