Sacramento Kings vs. Milwaukee Bucks Preview (12/7/22): Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds

The surging Sacramento Kings (13-9) face the dominant Milwaukee Bucks (17-6) Wednesday night. Terence Davis is questionable for the Kings, but he did take part in shootaround this morning. The Bucks will be without Wesley Matthews and Joe Ingles, but MarJon Beauchamp and Serge Ibaka are probable.

Can the Kings pick up a statement win on the road? Odds, predictions, key matchups, and starting lineups are below.

Sacramento Kings vs. Milwaukee Bucks Betting Odds

Milwaukee enters this matchup rightfully favored, as the spread is -6 Bucks with their moneyline at an ugly -240. On the other hand, Sacramento’s moneyline is +210, which means they must win 33% of the time to be profitable long-term. Meanwhile, the over under sits at a massive 235.5 points – the second largest line today.

Sacramento Kings vs. Milwaukee Bucks Prediction

Although the Kings have been one of my favorite teams to watch this season (check out an article I wrote on their offense), I’m going with the Bucks to cover -6 here.

The Kings are shredding opponents by frequently using Sabonis to initiate offense and subsequently running a dribble hand off or cut to create opportunities. When Sacramento doesn’t dump the ball to Sabonis at the elbow, they utilize Fox as a slasher to either attack the rim or kick it out for a three. It’s worked to perfection, as they own the 4th Offensive Rating and are hyper-efficient at the rim.

However, Milwaukee (2nd Defensive Rating) has the defensive personnel to defang this Sacrmanto offense. Jrue Holiday and Jevon Carter are two of the best defenders in the NBA because they exert tremendous on-ball pressure and flawlessly navigate screens. As a result, Fox will find it difficult to drive past them, while Huerter will struggle to create separation on screens. If Sabonis does find a cutter, Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo are devastating rim protectors – the Bucks rank 3rd at defending the rim. Due to Milwaukee’s length and smart rotations, they are 2nd at half-court defense.

The Kings also love to get out in transition, as they are 1st in frequency at 20.2%. However, Milwaukee’s pressure on the offensive glass and athletic, long lineup will reduce transition opportunities – they rank 10th in transition defense.

On the other end, the Kings rank 18th in Defensive Rating because of two major weaknesses: rim protection and point of attack defense. Sabonis doesn’t have the height or athleticism to contest vertical threats, and his average positioning means skilled post players can bully him. This deficiency is worrisome against a Bucks squad that rosters Giannis – perhaps the greatest rim threat in the NBA. Lopez and Portis are also threats to overwhelm Sacramento in the paint. With Sacramento ranking 26th defending the pick and roll ball handler, look for Jrue and Middleton to also shred the Kings and produce high shot quality.

And speaking of shot quality, Sacramento’s strength is manufacturing open three-point attempts while limiting them on the defensive end. The chart below shows net open+wide open 3PA and 2PA per 100 possessions, which is their own number minus the opponent’s.

Team Shot Quality

As you can see, the Kings have been utterly dominant by producing around 10 more open+wide open 3PA per 100 possessions than their opponent. These attempts have a high expected points per possession, which is driving their offensive success. However, Milwaukee is nearly at Sacramento’s level, so their typical shot quality advantage won’t be present.

Overall, it’s simply a bad matchup for Sacramento. While +6 Kings is definitely a decent amount of points to receive, the Bucks are too proficient in areas that blunt the Kings.

Betting Trends

  • Kings are 13-5 ATS in their last 18 games overall
  • Bucks are 15-7-1 ATS in their last 23 games following a ATS loss
  • Over is 9-0 in the last 9 meetings in Milwaukee

Key Matchups

Which team will win the positional matchups? Check out below for these vital battles.

Khris Middleton Rust

Khris has played two games since returning from injury, and it’s been a mixed bag. Against the Lakers last Friday, Middleton produced 17 points and 7 assists on 6/11 from the field and 3/4 from three. However, he managed 5 points and 5 assists on 1/11 from the field and 0/7 from three versus the Magic on Monday. His playmaking has already been a boon, but if Khris rediscovers his smooth jumper, then the Bucks offense will receive a significant scoring boost. It would leave both offenses neck and neck, but Milwaukee’s vastly superior defense would allow them to comfortably cruise to victory.

Malik Monk Offense

Sacramento’s bench has thrived in large part due to Monk’s offensive revelation. Over his last 9 games, Monk produced 18.6 PPG and 4.1 APG on a 54/36/82 shooting split. It’s not the efficiency that’s been most impressive, but rather the manner in which he is doing it. Monk is scoring off the dribble, thriving as a catch and shoot player, and relocating off-ball for a timely cut. If Monk can continue to contribute to this degree, then the Kings may be able to win the bench battle and pull within striking distance.

Sacramento Kings Starting Lineup

PG: De’Aaron Fox
SG: Kevin Huerter
SF: Harrison Barnes
PF: Keegan Murray
C: Domantas Sabonis

Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineups

PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Grayson Allen
SF: Khris Middleton
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
C: Brook Lopez

Key Injuries

Sacramento Kings Injuries: Terence Davis (Q)

Milwaukee Bucks Injuries: Wesley Matthews (O), MarJon Beauchamp (P), Serge Ibaka (P), Joe Ingles (O)

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2021-22 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs about analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions and NBA Analysis Network.

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