Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz Prediction: Luke Walton on the Hot Seat

NBA expert Jonathan Macri is here with his prediction and picks for the Saturday night matchups between the Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz and the Knicks vs. Rockets.
Jonathan Macri
Sat, November 20, 11:10 AM EST

Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz Prediction: Luke Walton on the Hot Seat

When: Saturday, November 20, 10:00 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass

Spread: Jazz -7.5

Total: 220.5

Click Here For Kings vs. Jazz Odds

Kings vs. Jazz Prediction

It’s been a little less than a week since The Athletic reported that Luke Walton is on a thin sheet of ice as head coach of the Sacramento Kings. Specifically, it noted that the benefit of the doubt he’s been awarded in the past would no longer be afforded, especially if the team continued to lose to bad teams.

Well, after an initial burst of energy with a 22-point win over the bottom-feeding Pistons, Sacramento is back to their losing ways, dropping consecutive games to the Wolves and Raptors, both by double digits. Now the competition gets tougher in the form of the Utah Jazz, who carry the second-best net rating in the NBA as well as the league’s top offense.

Despite that profile, this spread is on the smaller side, considering how poorly the Kings have been playing. That’s because the Jazz sits at just 10-5, in a group of teams below the conference-leading Warriors and Suns. Upon closer inspection, though, the Jazz has been the league’s third unluckiest team, at least in terms of how their point differential matches up with their record. They’re also the more rested team here, having last played on Thursday night, whereas the Kings will have played just 24 hours prior to tip-off.

Sacramento has now lost six of seven overall and against the spread, and the Jazz know how to put the hammer down against bad teams. They already have five wins by 16 points or more this season, whereas the Kings have two such losses in their last five games, including last night.

You figure that if Luke Walton had any tricks left up his sleeve to inspire his team, he’d have used them by now. The ax may not come down after this game, but the result won’t help his cause. So give the points on the road.

Kings vs. Jazz Pick

  • Jazz -7.5 (-110)

New York Knicks vs. Houston Rockets Prediction

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: MSG Network/ NBA League Pass

Knicks vs Rockets Odds

This one falls under “If the Knicks can’t beat the Rockets…” with nothing good coming at the end of that sentence.

That’s how quickly things have turned around for New York this season. Gone is the offensive juggernaut that was launching threes at will en route to a 5-1 start. In its place is a team that has won just three of its last nine games, with the league’s 24th ranked offense in that time.

The issue continues to be the performance of the starting five, both collectively and individually, with no starter able to generate consistently strong performances on either end of the court. The threes that went down early on are no longer falling, and while the defense has started to rebound, it hasn’t gotten to the level of last year’s fourth-ranked unit.

Their most recent loss to the previously 3-11 Orlando Magic at home came after the Knicks were favored by double digits. It was the fifth time in a row they failed to cover a spread of at least 7.5 points, with four outright losses coming in those five outings. Unfortunately, it would seem that Vegas isn’t taking notes because they’re back with another double-digit spread today.

The reason for the line has far less to do with the Knicks, though, and more to do with what is clearly the worst team in the NBA. The Rockets futility profile stands alone:

  • Worst net rating by nearly two points per 100 possessions
  • 13 consecutive losses
  • 3rd worst spread differential overall, and second-worst in the last two weeks.

That last line would be more convincing evidence of a Knicks pick here if only New York didn’t own the second-worst spread differential and worst figure over the last two weeks.

The fact is that neither of these teams deserves the benefit of the doubt, but if forced to pick one, it has to be New York. They’ve shown recent signs of figuring it out and have felt like they’re on the verge of a turnaround a few times during their struggles. The Rockets are the NBA’s ultimate get-well team at the moment.

If not now, then never. Go with the home team.

Knicks vs. Rockets Pick

  • Knicks -11.5 (-110)
Jonathan Macri
JCMacriNBA
Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball than Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.
Jun 2021
Record
Wins
8
Losses
7
Push
0
ROI
3.35%
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