Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#509 Los Angeles Lakers -4 vs.
#510 Philadelphia 76ers 216.5
Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 8:35pm EST
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Written by Benjamin Hayes

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Teams
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W/L
ATS
O/U
PPG
OPPG
#509 Los Angeles
#510 Philadelphia
36-9
29-17
24-20-1
21-22-3
22-23
22-22-2
114
108
106
105

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The Los Angeles Lakers travel to the East Coast to meet Philadephia on Saturday. The Lakers are sitting pretty at 36-9, which puts them in first place in the Western Conference and ties them (as of Friday) with Milwaukee for best record in the NBA. Philadelphia owns the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 29-17.

These teams met twice last season with the Sixers winning 143-120 at home and 121-105 on the road.

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Need a hand?

LeBron James was asked on Thursday whether the Lakers needed some help before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. He gave a diplomatic answer, but the Lakers have been mentioned in several rumors involving sending Kyle Kuzma to Sacramento and they've been linked with point guard Derrick Rose. At this point, the Lakers appear to be the best team in the West, but they could always use another shooter, despite the fact they rank 10th in three-point shooting (36.3%) and first in field goal percentage (48.4%).

It's hard to imagine a team losing with James (25.2pppg, 7.7rpg, 10.8apg) and Anthony Davis (26.3ppg, 9.2rpg) in their prime. Overall, the Lakers have won three of their last four on this five-game road trip, which included an impressive 124-115 win over Houston and a disappointing 139-107 loss at Boston.

In their last game on Jan. 23, the Lakers beat up on Brooklyn 128-113. James starred with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, while Davis added 16 points and 11 boards in 27 minutes. Dwight Howard also had a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards. The Lakers shot 50% from the field and 19-of-38 from beyond the arc. Kuzma scored 16 points off the bench but it's really tough to find a weakness other than at guard. With James, the Lakers don't need a point guard and could maybe use an upgrade to combo guard Avery Bradley (7.4ppg), who is there for his defense.

When the Lakers start Howard (6-10, 265), Davis (6-10, 253) and James (6-8, 250), there are few, if any teams that can match up with that size. So much for small ball.

Injuries are costing the Sixers

Nobody thought that Philadelphia would be stuck in sixth place in the East, but the fact that there are five teams with a better record than the Sixers is shocking. Now the Sixers are dealing with two key injuries starting with wing Josh Richardson (15ppg), who is out for 2-3 weeks with a hamstring injury. He was injured in Philly's 107-95 loss at Toronto on Jan. 22. That loss broke a four-game winning streak (beat Brooklyn twice).

The Sixers have also been playing without center Joel Embiid (23.4ppg, 12.3rpg), who suffered a torn ligament in his left hand in Philly's 101-95 loss at Indiana. There is no timetable for his return, which means one of the few teams that could match the Lakers in size, will be smaller. Fortunately, they do have Al Horford (6-9, 240), who played the pivot for many years in Boston and Atlanta. He's averaging 12.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He just doesn't dominate the paint or protect the rim like Embiid.

With Richardson gone, that means more run for 6-7 shooting guard Furkan Kormqaz (8.9ppg), who had 17 points against the Raptors. Rookie guard Matisse Thybulle (4.9ppg) also has been playing more lately and can defend extremely well.

Defense is still this team's signature thanks to Ben Simmons (6-10, 240), who could become the next LeBron James if he can improve his shot. He's averaging 16 points per game on 57.8% shooting with 7.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game. They allow just 105.1 points per game (2nd) on 45.4% shooting (13th) and 35.6% three-point shooting (18th). They average just 108.4 points per game (22nd) on 46.6% shooting (35.4% 3pt).

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Full-Game Side Bet

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The Sixers could see the Lakers in the Finals either this season or next. The Embiid injury is worrisome, because he might not be back for a long time. This team is huge with him, but without him, you have Horford probably defending Davis and Tobias Harris defending James (though Simmons will defend him as well). Who will keep Dwight Howard off the boards? Davis is almost unguardable as it is and the Sixers will also miss Richardson's shooting. Their bench now has become a weakness with Korkmaz starting. Even though this is late in the road trip, I'm taking the Lakers to easily cover this game.

Prediction: LA Lakers -4.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Both teams can flat out defend, but with Embiid and Richardson out, they have to rely on their defense more than ever. Thybulle is not a great shooter yet, but boy is he an incredible defender. Without Richardson (he played just four minutes before the injury), Philly put up just 95 points against Toronto. They also shot 38% from the field against another quality defense. Simmons is not a good enough shooter from the perimeter to carry the offense and he also had eight turnovers, which is a sign that he's trying to do too much. Take the under.

 

Prediction: Under 216.5
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Written By Benjamin Hayes

Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!