Kings vs. Lakers NBA Odds & Picks: Fade Sacramento’s Defense Against Los Angeles (April 30)
Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers.
- Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers take aim at the Sacramento Kings on Friday in hopes of buoying the team's NBA Playoffs seeding.
- The Lakers badly need a win in order to keep the ship afloat until LeBron James' eventual return from injury, while the Kings have little motivation left in the waning NBA season.
- Kenny Ducey breaks down Friday night's California in-state NBA Western Conference matchup, culminating in his pick against the spread for Kings vs. Lakers.
NBA Odds: Kings vs. Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers' quest for playoff positioning continues Friday against one of their in-state rivals: The Sacramento Kings.
The Kings have broken out of an offensive slump to compete against some strong defenses lately, but their own struggles getting stops have continued to hamper them just as they have all season.
Will a spread of 9 points prove to be too many for a weak defense that just gave up 154 points to Utah? Or, will LA continue to find unstable footing following Anthony Davis' return to the lineup?
Let's dig into the matchup and search for an answer.
You didn't misread that sentence in the lead-in to our breakdown. The Kings really allowed 154 points to the Utah Jazz in a 49-point loss on Wednesday. Their pace rating was high (over 100), which explained why so many points were able to be scored. Well … that — and the fact that this team has looked lethargic and uninterested on that end of the floor all season long.
There was a brief period this year when the Kings' defense wasn't the team's biggest issue. Instead, Sacramento's primary struggle was to find ways to get buckets.
However, that certainly has not been the case over the past 10 games. During that recent span, the Kings have ranked 13th in offensive efficiency at 113.2 points per 100 possessions.
Unfortunately, a big part of that offense will be missing on Friday when Harrison Barnes sits out again with left adductor tightness. To make matters worse, the Kings will still be without the services of point guard De'Aaron Fox, who remains in the league's health and safety protocols.
Sacramento has had a whole host of issues scoring and defending inside — not to mention rebounding, where the team ranks dead last over the past 10 games. That could improve ever so slightly with the return of Marvin Bagley, III. Bagley has not played since March 15 due to a broken finger, but he is Probable to return to play vs. Los Angeles on Friday.
It's possible we don't see a minutes restriction given this isn't a major injury like one to the knee or torso, but we'll have to keep an eye out on pregame news. Bagley could actually make the Kings competitive in this game.
Los Angeles Lakers
LA is mired in a fight to avoid the play-in tournament in the Western Conference.
The Lakers sit at fifth in the West with an overall record of 36-26. Home court advantage is far out of reach, and the fourth-place Nuggets hold a formidable 5.5-game lead in the Western Conference standings.
LA is also sufficiently clear of the seventh seed, which would force the team to earn a spot in the NBA Playoffs through a miniature tournament. The Lakers are simply trying to stay afloat at the moment — and to hand things back off to LeBron James with the team in decent shape.
Speaking of James, he remains out on Friday, though his sidekick Davis should be in the lineup once more for the Lakers. LA lists Davis (calf), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (ankle), Marc Gasol (finger) and Dennis Schroder (calf) as probable. Alex Caruso is questionable with the same back spasms that kept him out against Washington.
Though Davis has been back for four games now, the Lakers haven't reaped the appropriate dividends from his return yet. Los Angeles has only won one of those four games, and the team ranks down 21st in offensive efficiency over that span.
Davis has added 6.6 points per 100 possessions on offense when he's been on the floor this year (per NBA.com), but the Lakers star has yet to kickstart this unit since his return.
Perhaps a meeting with the worst defense in the league could help. The Lakers' defense has stood the test of time, surviving numerous injuries, but the offense really has not.
Kings vs. Lakers Pick
The Lakers have everything to play for here, and the Kings seem mentally checked out –particularly on defense. I envision Sacramento's offense, particularly without Barnes or Fox, getting stuck early against a sound defense and forcing up bad shots for the majority of the game.
An interesting note here is that the Lakers have actually run at a slower pace with Davis on the floor this year, though the Kings rank ninth in pace over the last 10 games. I have been staring at this total and trying to figure out if the Lakers would win this tug of war over pace — and if the Kings would even score enough to get it there in the first place.
The Lakers have a decided edge in every facet of the game, and ultimately I don't think the Kings will come anywhere close. Sacramento's offense has been unsurprisingly awful when Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield must carry the load.
Furthermore, the reintroduction of Bagley III, for however long it lasts, won't be enough to save a team that ranks dead last in rebounding over its last 10 games. So, Davis and Gasol should clean up on the glass as well.
I would be comfortable laying double digits with the Lakers at home, so I'll lay the 9.
Pick: Lakers -9 (-110)