The NBA is officially back at the end of July, and the action really roars to life on Friday, July 31st, when six games hit the hardwood in Orlando.
One of those battles is between the Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs, as both sides attempt to steal the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
If you look at the odds to win the 8th seed in the Western Conference, neither of these teams looks like a great bet. However, finishing within four games of the Memphis Grizzlies would force a play-in series, and they’re in Florida to try to make it happen.
For an idea on how to bet on this contest, read on for my Kings vs. Spurs prediction.
Kings vs. Spurs Odds
Kings to Win-140
Spurs to Win+120
The Kings enter as slight favorites at Bovada, while this game has a fairly low total.
There is obviously no home court edge here, though, so predicting which team dictates pace will be next to impossible. Early indications are that the Kings should win this one, but bettors should brace for a tight, relatively low-scoring game.
Bovada offers the best Kings vs. Spurs lines at the moment, but BetOnline has better odds (-105) if you like San Antonio in this spot.
Team Matchup Breakdown
The loss of Aldridge is huge for the Spurs, as he put up 18.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He also offered some defensive resistance (1.6 blocks per game) and was a veteran presence.
San Antonio is obviously in trouble without him, as they’ll likely be forced to promote Jakob Poeltl into the starting five. Poeltl did a solid job in 10 starts this year, but the Spurs went just 4-6 in those games.
Poeltl needs to step up his game, but it’s unlikely he can turn in the same scoring and consistency Ridge brought to the table. That makes San Antonio vulnerable down low and makes their offense less formidable.
It also puts a ton of pressure on DeMar DeRozan, who saw a 3% increase to his usage rate with Aldridge off the floor this season. DeRozan has elite scoring upside and can certainly come up big at times, but making him a one-man wrecking crew could be bad news for the Spurs.
San Antonio’s offense was still solid on the year (10th in efficiency), and they do have a slew of viable secondary scorers. However, they don’t have a second star to lean on, and their defense isn’t very good.
On the other side, the Kings are incredibly balanced. Marvin Bagley III will be back and healthy, too, so the Kings will enter Orlando at full strength.
That’s a scary thought, especially since Sacramento has dominated this series. This year’s season series was split (1-1), but the Kings have won four of the last five meetings. In fact, San Antonio’s only win came in a tight 105-104 overtime thriller.
Sacramento has the edge on the perimeter (10th in outside shooting), while the Spurs rank 26th at defending the three. Losing Aldridge will only further hurt a Spurs team that is atrocious (30th) at rebounding, too.
The Kings are among the worst teams at defending down low, but with Aldridge not on the floor, this is suddenly less of a concern for this specific matchup.
Prediction and Pick
Aldridge sitting out the remainder of the year pretty much kills San Antonio’s playoff chances, and their free fall will probably begin in their first game back.
DeRozan could pop off, and there’s a chance guys like Jakob Poeltl and Trey Lyles raise their game with Ridge sidelined, but it’s asking a lot to demand the Spurs to be the same team.
Even that may not have been good enough. With Ridge, the Spurs still went just 27-36 before the NBA’s break, while they were suspect defensively with opponents scoring over 114 points per game.
They also couldn’t get it done in this exact matchup, so when you take one of their best players away, it doesn’t look good for them.
If you need an extra nudge, refer to the ATS data. The Kings are a solid 33-29-2 against the spread on the year, while the Spurs are one of the least reliable teams in the NBA (25-37-1).
Of course, the Kings are just 8-13 ATS as favorites, and the Spurs tell us nothing with their 18-18 record as underdogs. Both teams are technically on the road here, too, and they posted 14-19 and 11-22 marks away from home, respectively.
Overall, this just feels like the Kings all the way. They have more upside and star power, they defend a bit better, and the absence of Aldridge could allow them to win on the glass.
Sacramento can probably win by three here, but this game should be close. I’d just bet on the Kings to win and move along.
Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.
When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.