The Lakers (6-8) have finally returned home and face another exciting young team in the Philadelphia 76ers (7-6). The Lakers are coming off an ugly win 100-93 over the Suns Monday night. Meanwhile the 76ers pulled out an exciting victory over the struggling Clipper behind a career best performance from Joel Embiid (32/16/2).
In many ways the 76ers are a year ahead of the Lakers in exiting the devastating wasteland that is the bottom of the lottery. This year they are experiencing the fruit of their failure. “Rookie” Ben Simmons has been great, averaging 17.8/9.2/7.5. He has offset struggles with his jumper by playing great around the rim.
Joel Embiid, probably my favorite current non-Laker, brings joy to my heart. Whether he is talking trash on social media, talking trash on the basketball court, or talking trash from the injury report – he is always talking. Better yet, he has been backing it up by averaging just over 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. I’m pretty sure he only plays games on Tuesday, Thursdays, and every other Sunday so it remains to be seen whether he will suit up tonight. Early reports indicate he is.
Philadelphia, currently with a team Net Rating of -0.7, is statistically slightly better than the Lakers this year. Robert Covington and Redick have brought some scoring. They combine with the rookies for a 102.8 Offensive Rating (20th in the league).
The most incredible stat of the night, one that I literally had to double check twice and still don’t believe, is that the Lakers are currently ranked 4th in defense (99.7 Defensive Rating) in the National Basketball Association.
The Lakers are happy to be home after a rough road trip against some of the best in the Eastern Conference. They return after going 1 and 3 against the Celtics, Wizards, Bucks, and the Suns who lost a game to Defensive Player of the Year candidate Corey Brewer. With the 3rd worst offense in the league, the Lakers needs to continue some of the shooting they found in Phoenix Monday.
Look for us to try and force Simmons to shoot from beyond 15 feet. I would not be surprised if Luke sends Bogut out again to throw an elbow at Embiid. We’ll look to test him early. If we can bottle up Covington and Reddick the 76ers don’t have enough scoring power to win. At least they should not at the end of a four game road trip. This is the kind of game the Lakers need to show up for, and start winning, if they’re going to exit the lottery any time soon.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on ESPN