Preview & Chat: The Philadelphia 76ers

Kurt —  December 3, 2008

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers, Game 2
Records: Lakers 14-2 (1st in West) 76ers 8-10 (10th in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.5 (3rd in league) 76ers 101.3 (26th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 99.2 (2nd in league) 76ers 101.2 (4th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
76ers Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert

Lakers notes: A few thoughts out of last night’s game.

As for those saying that the Lakers are struggling with the TJ Fords and quick point guards of the league — you are right. But if you think this is just a Lakers problem, I suggest you watch any team trying to defend Ford or CP3 or the other quick PGs in the league. Nobody can stop them one-on-one, since they started calling any touch on the perimeter a foul you can’t slow these guys with one player. It takes a team, it takes bigs rotating and blocking the paint. The Lakers have their strategy and some nights they execute that, some nights they don’t, like last night. But there is no silver bullet in the form of another player — particularly a backup PG — that can solve this issue.

Another topic is Andrew Bynum and people here saying he should have been in to help with rebounding late in the game, and that the second unit deserved more run. I don’t buy the second part of that — that second unit built the lead then Farmar tried to force plays, there were turnovers galore and things needed to be shaken up. It may not have worked, but the later stages of a game you can win on the road is not the time to “let the guys play through it” as he might have in the second quarter.

You can make the argument Bynum should have been in more than a few seconds near the end, but Bynum had his chance to grab a rebound and save the game but didn’t (although Pau should have boxed out Murphy, Bynum had closed out on Rasho at the free throw line, that said Drew was not exactly quick reacting to the play at the basket). What I really like is that he was ticked he didn’t get more run.

Anyway, the lessons about last night are that the Lakers front line may be long but you can’t take a night off from boxing out and grabbing boards, and that every team has guys who can score in this league so the defense can’t rest either. Neither of those are issues that are going to freak me out 16 games into the season.

The 76ers Coming In: This is the second game of a back-to-back for both teams, the Sixers lost to the Bulls last night (but Andre Miller didn’t suffer much embarassment at the hands of Derrick Rose this time around). In fact, the Sixers game went to overtime and they won.

The Sixers are another team (like the Pacers) that are good on defense and spotty on offense.

On defense, they do well not really by keeping the other team from shooting well (opponents shoot 48.6% eFG%, 12th in the league, middle of the pack) but they do a good job on the boards, don’t foul a lot and create a fair amount of turnovers.

On offense, their key shooters should be better than this — Miller, Brand, Iguodala are all good players – but they just aren’t shooting well. That starts with Brand, a career 50.4% shooter who is at 45% this year (and not getting to the line a lot either, his true shooting percentage is 50.1%, well off his career pace of 55%).

Those numbers kind of replicate themselves across the board. Iguodala is at a 48.9% TS% (although he can still light it up for a game and comes in hot off a 25 and 9 performance with 5 assists last night in the loss). Andre Miller is at 49.1% TS%.

Young, the team’s three, is the one exception to the rule, with a TS% of 54%, the highest among the 76ers regular rotation. The other guy to watch off the bench is Marreese Speights, the rookie out of Florida who is putting up nice numbers in his 14 minutes per game.

This team really needs a shooter to space the floor, ideally a big as Dalembert and Brand occupy the same place on the floor too much.

Keys To The Game: Hopefully the Lakers learned some lessons about focus on defense last night and helping out to stop dribble penetration, because that is what the Sixers do. Their offense is not complex and it relies on guys breaking down their defender off the dribble or on pick-and-rolls. Tonight is not about innovation but execution.

What didn’t work great last night was packing the paint and letting the Pacers have some good longer looks, but that may be a strategy to stick with tonight in that the Sixers are not flush with shooters. You can’t let Brand or Dalembert get good looks inside, but if they kick it out for a jumper this is not a team that can hit those anymore.

Another night, with both teams in the second game of a back-to-back, where the Lakers depth should be key. The second unit should get some run and could get the Lakers another big lead. The question is, can they hold on to it this time?

Oh, and don’t forget to crash the boards.

Where you can watch: 4 pm start again out West, KCAL 9 in LA and League Pass everywhere else.