The Lakers return home to LA to face the 76ers after a 2-1 road trip that rode the roller coaster. After demolishing the Warriors when LeBron sat, the Lakers promptly laid an egg vs. the Grizzlies on Saturday only to come back on the 2nd night of a back to back and pull out a win vs. the Pelicans when Anthony Davis and Alex Caruso sat out.
This week, however, starts a new test. After Philly tonight, the Bucks and Clippers are lurking, looking to continue their season success against this team. Make no mistake, this week will be a challenge — even if the 76ers come into Staples banged up and missing their three of their best players.
Yes, Simmons (back) and Embiid (shoulder) are both out tonight. As is Josh Richardson (concussion). Considering how important these three are to this team’s success, it would be easy for the Lakers to look past tonight and give some mental energy to the Bucks and Clippers. That would be a mistake, though.
Philly is greatly diminished, but they still have some good talent. Tobias Harris will light you up. Al Horford can still be a very good two-way player. Thybulle will defend, Korkmaz will bomb away from deep, Shake Milton is coming off the game of his career, and the Glenn Robinson/Alec Burks/Mike Scott trio can all get hot and put in some buckets if you’re not attentive. Is this a great team with the players available? No, but they’ll compete hard and are currently fighting for playoff positioning with the Heat to get homecourt advantage in the 1st round.
This game will matter to them and, as a National TV affair in Los Angeles vs. the Lakers, expect their best effort. The Lakers need to be ready or they’ll find themselves in a fight.
Particularly because the Lakers could also be shorthanded tonight. Both AD and Caruso are listed as questionable and very well could sit again tonight. The Lakers do not play again until Friday and sitting this game could lead to almost a week’s rest for both players. Considering the Lakers’ position in the standings and their want to be as healthy for the playoffs, caution could certainly prevail.
Considering the injury situation of both teams, specific matchups aren’t necessarily the best way to forecast how this game could go. Instead, let’s talk themes. The Lakers need to defend the 3 point line, get back in transition, and ensure they’re taking care of the basketball themselves. They could do themselves a big favor, too, by knocking down whatever open 3 pointers they’re afforded by a Philly team that allows the fewest 3-point attempts and makes by opponents in the NBA this season.
Do these things, and the Lakers should be okay and can head into the next couple of days off with a win on the ledger.
Where you can watch: 7:00pm start time on TNT.