Kings were historic long shots, now favored to beat Warriors

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Coming into the season, if someone told you the Sacramento Kings would be up 2-0 on the defending champion Golden State Warriors in a playoff series, you probably would have laughed.

Fast forward to the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs and that’s exactly where we are. Not only did the Kings make the playoffs, but they also locked up a 3 seed and won Games 1 and 2 against Stephen Curry & Co.

How did a team that finished 30-52 a year ago become a title contender so quickly? The trade of Domantas Sabonis definitely contributed to that streak, as the big Lithuanian posted 19.1 points per game, 12.3 rebounds per game and 7.1 assists per game in the regular season.

His 14 triple-doubles this season were second-most in the NBA, behind only Nikola Jokic.

De’Aaron Fox is also having a career year, averaging 25.0 PPG en route to his first All-Star appearance. Fox and Sabonis led the Kings to their first Pacific Division title since the 2002-03 season, despite being 250-1 odds to win it in the preseason.

These are the longest preseason odds of any Pacific Division champion since at least the 2008-09 season, from our division odds data. So the question remains, can the Kings win it all?

In fact, they have the longest title drought of any NBA franchise, with their only championship coming 71 years ago, in 1951, when they were the Rochester Royals.

From a game standpoint, Sacramento’s title odds have dropped tremendously. In the preseason, they were 500-1 to win it all and are now just 20-1 after taking a 2-0 loss to the Warriors. Here’s how his odds have moved over the course of the season:

june: 750-1

From July to November: 500-1

From December to January: 150-1

February: 80-1

March: 100-1

April: 50-1

Entering the first round: 50-1

Current (April 19): 20-1

Since 1985, the team most likely to win a preseason title is, coincidentally, the Warriors, who were 28-1 in the preseason before winning it all in 2014-15. Should the Kings win, they would break that record as 500-1 preseason underdogs. In fact, only eight NBA champions since 1985 have had preseason title odds of 10-1 or more, let alone 100-1 or more.

To put their 500-1 preseason odds into perspective, they were the same preseason odds given to the Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic. Three of those teams won less than 30% of their games this season and none of them made the postseason. The Kings were actually heavy favorites to miss the playoffs entering the season, given -650 odds to lose and +450 odds to enter the year. They also won a whopping 48 games even though their over/under win total was set at 34.5, and managed 35 wins in just 60 games played.

It’s also worth reviewing how impressive the Warriors’ struggles have been thus far. Below is a list of nuggets that provide context on Golden State’s performance thus far:

  • The Warriors are down 0-2 in a playoff series for the first time since 2007, when they fell behind the Jazz 0-2 in the second round.
  • This is the first time the Warriors have gone 0-2 in a playoff series in the Steph Curry era.
  • The Warriors are the fifth defending champion to go down 0-2 in the first round of the playoffs, with each of the previous four losing the series (three of them were swept).
  • The Warriors had gone 27 straight playoff series without losing 0-2, the longest streak in NBA history.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to FOX Bet and place some NBA Playoff bets!

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