The NBA has a full slate of action on Saturday from the afternoon into the evening. The action begins at 3:00 p.m. EST in Philadelphia between the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers. That should be a good matchup, but with a potential Covid-19 situation in the 76ers’ locker room, let’s see how things go with contract tracing after Seth Curry tested positive for the virus.
If that game is postponed because of additional positive tests on the 76ers’ roster, then we will miss out on afternoon NBA action. In the last matchup on Saturday night, the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings meet at Golden 1 Center. The Trail Blazers had the night off on Friday, while the Kings suffered a big loss against the Toronto Raptors, 144-123.
The Raptors were without the services of Kyle Lowry, but it didn’t matter, as Fred VanVleet took over with 34 points. Before that win, I was saying that the Raptors should consider trading Lowry, and the win without him in the lineup reinforces my point, albeit a one-game sample size isn’t much. Rookie Malachi Flynn and Terence Davis have shown enough to be able to find options off the bench for the Raptors.
The Kings were up at halftime after a high-scoring first half by a score of 74-71. They didn’t play defense in the first and didn’t in the second either, while the Raptors responded to what Nick Nurse had to say at the break. The Kings have to turn around and play again on Saturday following a poor performance. That might be for the better instead of sitting around and thinking about the loss.
Portland is coming off a 135-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 7. That was after a bad 111-108 loss against the Chicago Bulls. The Blazers woke up following the shoddy effort versus the Bulls. That was their straight loss, which included a 137-122 loss against the Golden State Warriors. There are people that think very highly of the Blazers, and I think they’re good, but their 4-4 start has been mediocre. Head below for our free Trail Blazers vs. Kings pick on January 9, 2021.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Sacramento Kings NBA Betting Odds:
Trail Blazers vs. Kings Prediction:
The Portland Trail Blazers are the superior team on paper, but expect to see the Kings put a better performance together tonight. They are likely going to be looking to play much better after a lazy effort defensively against the Raptors. That’s not to say it means they’re going to cover, though. The Kings were not a threat in the Western Conference a season ago. They finished with a record of 31-41 to put them behind the 35-39 Blazers for the final playoff spot in the playoffs.
There is a lot to like on this roster, notably the presence of Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox. The most impressive player has to be off the bench for the Kings. The Kings selected Tyler Haliburton with the No. 12 pick in the draft, and he’s been exceeding expectations thus far. Haliburton is coming off a 17-point and 15-point effort against the Bulls and Raptors off the bench. It will be hard to keep him out of the starting lineup next year if he continues to develop.
The problem for the Kings is their defense. A lot of young talent that likes to push the pace on this roster, but getting back on the defensive floor has been an issue. The Kings are 28th in the NBA with an average of 113.9 points conceded per game. In their last three outings, the Kings have been torched for 135 points a game. The Blazers, who have netted 117 points per game, fifth in the league, should be able to cut through the Kings.
However, they should expect a better effort following an embarrassing showing against the Raptors. That said, it’s unlikely going to be enough to stop the Blazers from scoring at will. As far as the Blazers’ defense is concerned, though, how much faith do we have in them? They’ve been touched up for 118 points a game, 26th in the league. The OVER has gone 4-1 in their past five meetings for good reason. An average of 238.5 points were scored in their last two games. I think that’s just about where this total should be instead of 234, thus the OVER carries value.