This game has two interesting defensive questions to be answered:
1) How does Smush hold up against the ultimate penetrating small guard in the league (and does Kobe spend some time on him too)?
2) What lessons did the rest of the NBA take away from the Laker collapse at the end of the Minnesota game, when the T-Wolves went largely to a zone and the Lakers looked lost?
The first question is the one that will be the fun one to watch (and will get all the media attention). Iverson takes a lot of shots but has never been efficient with them â€” heâ€™s shooting just 39.8% (eFG%) for the season and has a true shooting % of 48.2% (which takes into account free throws), both very low (for comparison, Kobe is at 50.4% eFG% and 55.8% TS%). What Iversonâ€™s penetration does do is tend to get other team members good looks. Chris Webber is the only other Sixer who takes a decent number of shots, but heâ€™s shooting just 46.2% this season. The guys who really benefit by the good looks are Andre Iguodala (shooting 68% this season) and Kyle Korver, who is shooting 41.2% from beyond the arc.
The second question was something a lot of people seemed to notice â€” it was in my notes, it was picked up on by the AP writer (and Henry at True Hoops). The Lakers were tired at the end of that game in Minnesota and started to make some questionable offensive choices (leading to poor shots). But they also seemed not to recognize and react to the zone defense Minnesota put out there. In this league, it doesnâ€™t take long for word of any weakness to get around. Whether or not the Lakers really struggle against zones (the triangle, if run properly, should overload it) or if that was the aberration at the end of a back-to-back we shall see soon, because the Lakers are going to get tested with it again. Likely in the City of Brotherly Love, but certainly somewhere soon.
The Sixers have been playing well, they have a two-game winning streak that includes a win over Dallas. The Lakers are fortunate to catch Philly with the athletic Samuel Dalembert out due to injuries, but that certainly doesnâ€™t mean this is a gimme. This game and Monday in Memphis are both games that the Lakers are capable of winning if they play well, but could also easily loose if they arenâ€™t ready mentally. Two toss up games. The kind of games playoff teams find ways to win more than they lose, even in November.
As a side note, Iâ€™m going out of town this weekend, a local getaway for my wifeâ€™s birthday. Use the comments to talk about the game, Iâ€™ll check in over the weekend. But no new posts until Sunday night/Monday morning. Have a good weekend everyone.