It’s the best of times for the Golden State Warriors, and it could be the worst of times for the Sacramento Kings as each team prepares for its final game of the regular season tonight.
The Warriors play Memphis at home as they attempt to set a new NBA single-season record for wins. Golden State (72-9) needs a win tonight to top the 72-10 mark posted by the Chicago Bulls in the 1995-96 season. (The Vegas line makers are confident they’ll win the game, making them 17-point favorites this morning.)
Golden State also wants to repeat as NBA champions, and will start the playoffs as the top seed in the west against either Utah or Houston. The Rockets are the Warriors likely opponent, thanks in part to the Kings.
Sacramento has a strong incentive to blow tonight’s game against Houston. The Kings (33-48) are tied with Milwaukee and Denver for the eighth-worst record in the NBA. If they fall out of the 10 worst teams–a possibility depending on how tonight’s games turn out–they will lose their first round draft pick to Chicago. They won’t have a second round pick either.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, management left two of the team’s three best players–DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo–at home for the last road trip of the season. But the Kings beat Phoenix on Monday and could lose their first round pick if they beat Houston.
That probably won’t happen. The Rockets are tied with Utah for the eighth playoff spot in the west, and will make it into the post season if they beat the Kings. Let’s see: Houston needs a win and Sacramento’s management would rather lose the game. That probably explains why the Rockets are 14-point favorites.
But coach George Karl may have other ideas. There are rumors he’ll be fired after the game–that would be three coaches in three seasons under the new ownership–and he might want to go out with a victory.
Personally, I’m going to watch the Warriors game.