Game Preview & Chat: The Philadelphia 76ers

Kurt —  January 4, 2008

Records: Lakers 19-11; 76ers 14-18
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.2 (7th); 76ers 103.9 (22nd)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.4 (12th); 76ers 105.3 (7th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Ronny Turiaf, Andrew Bynum
76ers: Andre Miller, Rodney Carney, Andre Iguodala, Reggie Evans, Samuel Dalembert

Lakers Notes: This is the game Lamar Odom sits and it’s not going to be easy to replace the 16 points and 10 rebounds a game he has averaged in the Lakers last 10. In the last 10 Odom has been shooting 51.1% (eFG%) and 35% on his 20 threes.

Kobe and Fisher have not been nearly as solid in the last 10. Kobe is shooting 45% (eFG%) overall and 29.8% from three, down from his 48.5% overall and 33.5% numbers for the season. Fisher’s numbers are 45.8% (down from 52.1%) and 33% (down from 37.9%) in the last 10.

Mihm is out another month (give or take) with an Achilles problem. I just want the guy to get healthy — remember two seasons ago he was, besides Kobe, the one guy who brought it every night, who really worked hard. I had hoped to eventually see that Mihm again. If his body doesn’t betray him.

On the injury front, Sasha Vujacic has had back spasms (which hurt like hell, by the way) and is a game-time decision. So is Radmanovic with a twisted ankle.

The 76ers Coming In:Ladies and gentlemen, start your rebuilding.

That’s what the trade of Kyle Korver signaled — the Sixers, behind new GM Ed Stefanski, are wisely blowing up what they have and starting over. I expect Andre Miller is moved at the trading deadline (although Stefanski likely will not take lowball offers).

The question is how will all this impact the team on the court this season? They are 5-5 in their last 10 and have been getting great play of late from Miller and Iguodala (a guy who thrives slashing to the basket in isolation, but is also hitting 36.6% of his threes the last 10 games). Dalembert has been giving them good minutes as well.

The bench play has hurt the 76ers of late — for example the last time these two met Louis Williams had been shooting 43.8% from three-point range off the bench, but in the last 10 that is down to 30%.

Last Time They Played: The 76ers had no answer for Andrew Bynum — he had 24 points on 10 of 11 shooting, plus pulled down 11 boards. Kobe, Fisher and Odom also were all in double figures as the Lakers cruised — they never had a huge (20ish point) lead but they led almost the entire game and took control with a third-quarter run. It was not one of Kobe’s more efficient games, in the fourth quarter he was 0-5 from the field (but did get to the line for 5 free throws, hitting them all). For the game he shot 35% (eFG%).

The Lakers did continue their trend of not stopping quick guards — Andre Miller had 21 points on 9 of 17 shooting. Iguodala added 20 but was 7 of 20 from the floor. The now-traded Korver had 11 points in 31 minutes for the Sixers in that game.

Want To Feel Like You’re At The Game? Check out this YouTube video of the Lakers pre-game spectacular. It was taken and put up by the guy who posts here as UCSBShaw. Well worth the look.

Keys To The Game: The Sixers try to create turnovers with a pressure defense, last meeting the Lakers exploited this by getting past the pressure out top and getting the ball to Bynum in great (and isolated) positions. Fisher and Odom also were able to exploit the pressure with smart plays that led to open looks. The Lakers need to do that again tonight.

The Lakers — particularly Turiaf and other guys on the front line — really need to crash the boards tonight because the Lakers will miss Odom in that regard against a good rebounding team. The 76ers grab 31% of their missed shots, the second highest percentage in the league. The Lakers cannot allow a lot of easy putback baskets tonight. Put a body on Reggie Evans.

Tonight’s Game: Where Britney Spears’ Seat Is Empty Happens: Last season the Lakers had the young-team’s habit of playing to the level of their opponent. They had great games against the league’s best but struggled with the teams they should beat. We’ll see what happens over the next seven games, if the Lakers have matured. This is a game the Lakers should win but the Sixers have enough talent and are playing well enough to beat teams that overlook them.

Where you can watch: Game time is 7:30 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into Fox Sports, nationally you’ll need League Pass or watch online with the ESPN gamecast.