Game: Sacramento Kings at Charlotte Hornets
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Odds: Kings -1, Hornets +1
The Kings are 5-3 since the firing of head coach Luke Walton. They have won their last three straight and look to get a fourth consecutive win tonight in Charlotte. Typically, a west coast team traveling to the east coast doesn’t get the benefit of being tabbed a favorite. Tonight, the 11-14 Kings are just that – a favorite against the top-scoring team in the NBA, the Hornets.
To understand why Sacramento is a 1-point road favorite tonight, all one has to do is take one look at the injury report. The Hornets have lost consecutive games to Philadelphia – 127-124 and 110-106 – with shorthanded lineups. Charlotte will be without the following tonight: Ish Smith, Mason Plumlee, Terry Rozier, Jaden McDaniels, and LaMelo Ball. All five players are out due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Those five players represent a big portion of the Hornets scoring. In both losses to the Sixers, Charlotte used just eight players. Two of the three bench players are rookies. That could spell another disaster tonight when the Kings come to town.
Sacramento has been playing better under interim head coach Alvin Gentry. Marvin Bagley III has picked up his game and is averaging 10.4 points and 7.2 rebounds in the Kings’ last five games. De’Aaron Fox (20.6 ppg), Harrison Barnes (18.9) and Buddy Hield (15.5) lead Sacramento, which likes to play at a pretty fast pace. The Kings are fourth in possessions per game (104.7) behind only the Lakers, Rockets, and their opponent tonight, the Hornets.
Charlotte plays at the second-fastest pace in the league which is one of the reasons why they lead the NBA in scoring. The Hornets score 115.4 points per game. Charlotte put up 124 points in Monday’s game with the Sixers. The game did go into overtime, but the Hornets managed 119 in regulation. On Wednesday, Charlotte scored just 106 points, their fewest points since a 106-99 win over Orlando on Nov. 24.
Both Sacramento and Charlotte have their issues with defense. The two teams rank at the bottom of the scoring defense rankings. Sacramento allows 113.5 points per game and comes in at No. 29. Charlotte, which allows 116 points per game, is dead last at No. 30.
The Kings beat Orlando (5-21) on Wednesday night. The Magic are one of the lowest-scoring teams (101.5 ppg) in the NBA this season. Sacramento gave up 130 points to Orlando. The Hornets, with one win in their last six games, have given up 110, 127, 127, 127, 133, and 146 in those six games.
It should be no surprise that both teams trend toward the Over. The total has gone Over in five of the Kings’ last seven games and four of their last five on the road. The Over has cashed in six of the Hornets’ last seven games and four of the last five against Sacramento. The Over is 16-10-1 in Hornets games this season and 7-3-1 in home games.