The Portland Trail Blazers will be visiting the Sacramento Kings at the Golden 1 Center tonight in both of their season openers. Both Western Conference teams are projected to be competing for one of the final play-in spots in the conference, which could be big for seeding implications.
The Trail Blazers are coming into the game without bench pieces Gary Payton II and Trendon Watford. Sacramento will be missing the services of recent fourth overall pick Keegan Murray.
Portland will roll out a five-man group of Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart, Jerami Grant, and Jusuf Nurkic to start. Sacramento’s starting group will provide De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter, Harrison Barnes, and Domantas Sabonis, with the help of Malik Monk or KZ Okpala as the fifth guy.
Keys To A Portland Victory
The Trail Blazers have a relatively simple formula to winning this bout. Against a weak Kings defense, they’ll need Lillard and Simons to have big nights. Due to the lack of depth because of injuries, Lillard and Simons need to provide a big scoring output to put points on the board. Both should have roles creating off one another, taking turns creating their own shot and moving without the ball.
They’ll also have to generate offense for the rest of the pack. Grant is an above-average creator, as Hart is also a quality rim-pressurer, but they need to take a back seat to the two guards. They’ll have to find avenues to cut while the others are creating offense to get involved and find openings against a weak Sacramento interior.
Hart and Grant will have bigger roles in this game outside of offense, along with Nurkic and Nassir Little. With Fox being the hyper quick guard he is, the name of the game for the Kings will be rim pressure. Lillard and Simons will likely get blown by consistently, so they’ll need to scheme effectively to stop Fox from getting to the rim and getting up easy points or dishing it down to the “bigs”. All four are strong inside defenders, so they’ll need to make quick rotations and stay in their spots when they have to.
Keys To A Sacramento Victory
The Kings have a recipe for success against Portland. With Fox likely prioritizing getting to the rim all night, this strategy is enhanced with the screen setting abilities of Sabonis and Richaun Holmes. A pick and roll-centric offense should be what Sacramento leans towards en route to a 1-0 start.
Along with that, they’ll need big contributions from Huerter, Monk, and Davion Mitchell. All will provide a different blend of skill sets, as Huerter will play a Klay Thompson role in the backcourt, Monk will be an effective running mate in transition, and Mitchell provides elite guard defense and secondary play making. If all three complimentary guards do their jobs at a high level, Sacramento will have a versatile amount of skills. Having a guard rotation that can do a little bit of everything is important, and they need to do a little bit of everything to overcome Portland.
The Spread via Fanduel-
Moneyline: POR: (+124) | SAC: (-146)
Spread: POR: +2.5 (-108) | SAC: -2.5 (-112)
Total: 229 —Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)
Prediction- Despite the offensive masterclass loading for Lillard tonight, the Kings should take this one at home. They have a deeper roster at this point with guys who have more diverse skills, which will be big for when Portland’s depth issue becomes prevalent.
Score- Kings 124, Trail-Blazers 105