The Oklahoma City Thunder has its eyes on the top seed in the Western Conference, which means home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs. The Sacramento Kings are young and athletic and have been competitive, but they’re just looking to wrap up another non-playoff season but finish on a high note entering the process of building a new arena. The Thunder continues its pursuit of the best record Friday night with a visit to Sacramento – where the Thunder lost in its last visit in February. Here’s a look at what to expect from both teams, plus my final score prediction to help you make your NBA picks for the night.
Oklahoma City Thunder (45-17) @ Sacramento Kings (20-42), 10 p.m. ET
The Thunder won for the fifth time in seven games Wednesday night with a 109-97 win over Phoenix for their 20th road win this season. The Thunder is one game back (in the loss column) of San Antonio for the best record in the West, but the Spurs own the tiebreaker. The Thunder close with Sacramento twice, at the Lakers and home vs. Denver. The Thunder has done most of its damage with its offense, ranking second in scoring (103 ppg). Oklahoma City has won its last three road games against sub-.500 teams, with the last loss coming Feb. 9 at Sacramento (106-101). The Thunder has lost five of its last six games in which it failed to score 100 points.
The Kings are stumbling to the finish line, dropping their eighth game in the last nine outings with a 127-102 loss to San Antonio Wednesday night. The Kings have lost seven-straight games against teams with winning records, with the last win coming at Utah March 30 (104-103( and the last home win coming March 20 vs. Memphis (119-110). The Kings are 15-16 at home, but 2-7 in their last nine home games. While the Kings are a top-10 offensive team (98 ppg), they are the worst defensive team in the league (105 ppg), allowing 100 or more points in each of the last seven games and 16 of the last 17. For the Kings to have any success, they usually either have to outscore teams or have a really good defensive game.
The latest NBA odds list the Thunder as 10-point favorites, while the over/under is set for 214 points. It will be difficult for the Kings to have much success against the talented Thunder. However, the Thunder did lose the last time it visited, because the Kings are young and athletic and thus provide a potentially difficult match up. Sacramento hasn’t stopped Oklahoma City in their two previous meetings, but Sacramento can win by hitting shots. The Kings are capable of doing so, but the Thunder have a lot of firepower to contend with. If Sacramento can control one of the Thunder’s big three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook or James Harden, it will have a chance. If two of them meet or surpass their season averages, the Kings will be in big trouble. The Thunder should prevail, but don’t be surprised if the Kings make it competitive until the fourth quarter.
Final Score Prediction: Thunder 110, Kings 102