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.
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.
Superman cleaning up 💪 pic.twitter.com/jSAql5e0gL— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 24, 2020
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 SixersNobody 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.
there's no question about it.— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 24, 2020
He's a rising star. 💫 pic.twitter.com/2A80XjNeH9
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).
- 5-2 ATS last 7 road games.
Trends from Covers.com Sixers are:
- 1-5-1 ATS last 7 as an underdog.
- 1-6-1 ATS last 8 playing on 2 days rest.