Preview and Chat: Lakers vs 76ers

Darius Soriano —  December 29, 2013

The Lakers coming in: Losers of 4 consecutive games, the Lakers come into tonight’s match up with the 76ers reeling. They’ll once again be without Pau Gasol (not to mention Kobe, Steve Blake, and Nash) and Chris Kaman is a game time decision due to the sprained ankle he suffered in the loss to the Jazz.

Whatever version of the Lakers we all hoped would materialize this season, the version we see right now is not a good team. They’re missing too many players who were supposed to be top end contributors and have too many other players either being asked to play a little outside of their comfort zones or caught in a rotation shuffle that is ever shifting and a bit too fluid for my liking.

Not all is bad, however. Mike D’Antoni may be shuffling around his bigs in a battle of his preferred style versus what the players on the roster are actually good at, but several wings on the team are playing well. Nick Young still isn’t a hyper-efficient scorer, but he’s been much better than I could have hoped for as a point producer off the bench and continues to surprise me as someone who cares about playing defense and seems genuinely interested in doing what his coaches ask of him. Xavier Henry has been a revelation as a contributor, moonlighting as a point guard and showing that his attacking style mixed with some confidence can combine to make a rotation player. Jodie Meeks is having what is his best season as a pro and Jordan Farmar is having a very good year and showed a nice bounce back in his 2nd game back from his hamstring injury.

This is who the Lakers are now, though. The reality has set in. They’re outside the playoff picture looking in, sitting on the fringe where they’re trying to compete each night but their available talent has them at a distinct disadvantage against many of the league’s teams. The fact they play hard and can be fun is enough to entertain most nights, but the losing does start to drain energy and at some point the team will either be so upset they’ll find a higher level to play at or will begin to get discouraged about their lot. My sense is that this team is full of too many proud players to every get too down on themselves, but getting some wins sure would help in that area.

The 76ers coming in: While many question if the Lakers should tank, I don’t think there’s a question about what the Sixers are doing. Before the season started they traded away their lone all-star from last year (Jrue Holiday) for rookie Nerlens Noel and then promptly shut down the rook for the entire season as he recovers from a torn ACL he suffered during his college campaign. And while the team still has Evan Turner, Thadeus Young, and Spencer Hawes, they’re mostly an outfit of young players with some talent (and some with not as much) soaking up minutes and getting experience for the future.

This approach leaves them with the 2nd worst record in the dreadful East and losers of 9 of their last 10 games. And while this bunch can entertain — rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams has a dazzling skill set and is capable of stuffing the stat sheet on any given night — if you want to see what a mostly bad team looks like and how losing too much can affect a team’s effort, this is the team to watch on a nightly basis. At some points in games, you can see their body language start to change as they simply realize that they will not win. The goal, of course, is to not let that become a habit, but that is one of the risks with taking this approach with a team.

Keys to the game: Despite what I wrote about the Sixers above, there are not gimme games for the Lakers at this point. The Lakers are clearly the better team in terms of record, but when you consider injuries and the fact that the team has lost 4 in a row let’s not get ahead of ourselves and just hand this game to the Lakers — even though they are at home.

This game will still be won or lost in the areas of effort, execution, and shot making. The Lakers will need to be better in all three areas and keep the Sixers from playing to their strengths (regardless of how limited they are) if they hope to get back on the winning side of things.

Offensively, the Lakers may be down Pau (and possibly Kaman), but this sets up Hill and Sacre to be solid contributors in the P&R game when paired with Jordan Farmar. Hill and Sacre are the team’s best dive men out of this action as both work hard to screen and then work their way to the front of the rim after almost every screen set. Both would do well to continue using this tactic against the Sixers, working to get into the paint as often as possible to set up their best finishing chances against a Sixers’ front line that isn’t a very good shot blocking group. If Hill and Sacre can convert inside off this action, it will then set up the outside shots and driving angles that Meeks, Henry, Young, Williams, and Johnson can thrive off of.

Defensively, the team must find a way to bottle up Philly’s perimeter oriented attack. Carter-Williams and Turner love to work from the wing and are very capable of breaking their man down off the dribble to get shots for themselves and others. Both must be forced into help and made into passers with the rest of the Lakers’ defenders showing the needed help and recovery skills to get back to their own man. This is especially true for whoever guards Hawes as he’s a good spot up shooter who will get ample shot opportunities out of pick and pop actions or drive and kicks where he slides into open spaces when his man is forced to help. Thad Young must also be marked all over the floor, especially when working off the ball. He’s a fine cutter when his man helps and can slither his way to the offensive glass (averages over 2 per game) for easy put-backs.

The Lakers must also find a way to be better in transition defensively than they have been recently. The Sixers are 9th in steals and that activity allows them to create easy baskets in the open court. This is especially important for Jordan Farmar who will be facing off against Carter-Williams who has sticky fingers on the perimeter defensively. Farmar mustn’t get careless with the ball and needs to be precise in how he sets up the team’s sets or it will lead to the type of live ball turnovers that will lead to the types of transition buckets that can prop up a relatively anemic 76ers’ offense. Execution is always important, but this incarnation of the Lakers has such a thin margin for error that it is especially important tonight.

Overall, the Lakers must bring their best effort against a struggling team to ensure they get this W. In order to start to right the ship, a win is needed and it’s this type of game against this type of team that the Lakers must take advantage of when it’s on the schedule.

Where you can watch: 6:30pm start on TWC Sportnet. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710 AM.

Darius Soriano

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40 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs 76ers

  1. Lakers are still good with out Kobe pull nash blake and chris

  2. Odd

    Meeks just.said on TW we have been in the last 4 games and could have won them.

    Hey Jody you lost 2 by a combined 45 points.

    Scoreboard Jody.

  3. Is this really a NBA game and are the Lakers a professional basketball team.

    Just terrible.

    Can’t watch this.

    Goodnite.

  4. Xavier Henry out with sprained knee. That sucks. I’m watching the Cowboys game tonight, but that news sucks almost as much as a ‘Boys loss would.

  5. I am convinced this coach is angling to be fired. Jordan Hill starts and then doesn’t get back in.

  6. If you are fair and picking teams.(between the 2 teams)….Williams and Turner would be picked before any Laker..

  7. Lakers lose Xavier Henry with a strained right knee, will have MRI on Monday.

  8. I edited the above comment, but somehow the system didn’t accept it. Jordan Hill gets back in after the Lakers go down by 8 points. That one, (edit 2nd) three pointer by Williams should get him a start for the remainder of the season, I mean really the guy doesn’t even use his fouls strategically. Doesn’t rebound, doesn’t play defense and runs like he has flat feet. He gets opportunity after opportunity to not produce, but Wesley a guy that is not supposed to be known for his offense, can’t get on the floor if he misses a shot. Runs like a gazelle and jumps like he’s on a bungee cord, but he can’t get in the game for sustained minutes.

    A real point guard is in the game!

    Please, please play Kelly and stop with the Williams torture, I mean, experiment.

  9. Excellent O board by Hill. Marshall needs to probe the middle more. He’s mainly swinging it along the perimeter.

  10. Has there ever been worse starting forwardsthen Johnson and Williams?

    If so please name it.

    Don’t think Mitch will be GM of the year.

  11. For whom the bell trolls December 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Too bad Jordan Farmar’s shot is still MIA, before the injury he was shooting lights out.

  12. I tell you what, against a bad team Marshall looks like a player that might develop into something.

    The Clippers are interested in Bynum, he’d be perfect on their team. Probably playing a position similar towhat he did for the Lakers during the championship years. Bynum seems to do better on a team when nothing is required from him. Good for Drew.

  13. Insert slow-footed Kelly, Kaman and Marshall into the game…at the same time? Does not compute.

  14. Xavier Henry,
    I hope it’s something very minor. This team is destined for a lottery pick.

  15. Meeks plays defense like he’s Kobe Bryant, as if he deserves the right to do so. He sags down into the paint (for what?) and the opposing team swings the ball to his man for a three point shot. He does it several times in a game. I’d sure like to know how many threes his man gets every game on that type of play.

    BTW, Kelly is no more slow-footed than Williams, I actually think Kelly can beat Williams on a flat out run. Kelly has a higher basketball IQ and far more skills than Williams has. Moreover, he’s our draft pick, might as well see if he can develop into a future rotation player.

    Lastly, if Williams goes to that short corner three and stands there, waiving other players to cut and move one more time….

    All that talking might get Young going! Really Sacre that’s your shot?

  16. One of my teams lost to Philadelphia today, hoping the Lakers can rally for the win against the 76ers.

  17. Amazing. Team plays terrible the whole game and is about to take the lead.

  18. Tank you, Tank me
    Tank it for always, that’s the way it should be
    Tank you, Tank me
    Tank together, naturally

  19. @Glove “One of my teams lost to Philadelphia today”
    You too? It wasn’t unexpected, so I’m not too upset, but it still sucks. I hope there are going to be some changes in this off season, but it seems like JJ is destined to be the second coming of Al Davis.

  20. For whom the bell trolls December 29, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Marshall, though not swift of foot, sure can pass.
    Kelly looks more comfortable on the court and I like his aggressiveness.

  21. C Hearn,

    The key part of my sentence was “at the same time”. I would much rather see what Kelly has to offer since Williams has had every opportunity to show more than what he has.

  22. Tank

    You really think one 1 first round pick changes this?

  23. Hale, fair enough.

    Kelly has just about the same amount of points and rebounds as Williams in almost 13 less minutes. I still don’t know how Williams plays 30 plus minutes a game.

    If the Lakers tried to run the offense through Kobe like they are for Young, can’t help but think fans would scream for Kobe to pass the ball.

  24. Never could I have imagined a Lionel Richie joint getting remixed in such a way. And out of all places, within the FB&G Community.

  25. 6 bad turnovers and 6 for 18. Not good Nick.

  26. @ KenOak,I think you might be correct on Jerry Jones. Lakers have too many turnovers tonight. Nick Young has assumed the Kobe role in the 4th quarter.

  27. Tra,

    We all have ways to cope…

    Sing it with me!

  28. Shawn Williams worst starter in the NBA.

    Los Angeles Lakers now worst team in the NBA.

    MDA worst coach in NBA

    Los Angeles Lakers most revenue in the NBA.

    Nice job

  29. Tank4Picks,

    Singing ain’t my thing, but I get your point.

    KenOak & Glove,

    At least for tonight, I guess Philly isn’t the city of ‘Brotherly Love’

  30. I think its fairly obvious that we are tanking – how does kaman go from starting last game and notching 20-10 with 3 blocks to playing 10mins this game – makes no sense

    Every game our front court rotation is out of whack – even with injuries being considered – Pau has now been out what 3 games and in every game we have a different front court rotation doesnt make sense.

  31. Question – does anyone know if we get ping pong balls based on rank within our conference or is it overall record in the league – if its rank we might get the 2nd most balls out of the west – would love to see Parker get to the lakers.

  32. Based on worst total record. This team will probably drop the ping pong ball anyway.

  33. Lakers are now officially BAD and BORING. I can cope with the former more readily than the latter.

  34. For all the wonderers, Kaman has a sprained ankle and didn’t practice yesterday. Injuries keep on piling up.

  35. At this point, should we as Laker fans look more intently on any college basketball players that could be in the range for the upcoming draft in 6 months or does that sound defeatist? Personally, I am just watching this Laker team just to see who could stick and which ones won’t for next season. All in all, I hope you guys had a wonderful Christmas weekend.

  36. A top 5 pick nets us a franchise guy going forward. Trade Pau for a 2015 1st rounder and tank on…

  37. very sad state of affairs (to say the least)

  38. the nets pick is going to atlanta as a part of the joe johnson trade

  39. Lakers need to stop losing to easy teams they are better then that! P.S Kobe Steve Blake Chris are hurt so it is Olny up to the reast

  40. Happy New Year and I hope it will be a glorious one for the Lakers