I’ve not written a game preview in a couple of days for a few reasons, but a key one is because I wanted to see if my initial thoughts on what this team would look like with LeBron joining AD out injured were confirmed or not. Turns out, they have been so far. The Lakers are bad and regardless how hard they have (vs. the Suns) or have not (vs. the Pelicans) played, they’ve lost by nearly 20 points and it looks like that trend is going to continue on most nights, including tonight’s game against the 76ers.
If you’re looking for some semblance of good news, Marc Gasol is returning tonight, though he’s only going to play around 15 minutes. Now, Gasol only averages 20 minutes a game, so 15 doesn’t seem so bad! That said, with AD out, I think the hope would be Marc could go for longer if needed (like, if Trez weren’t particularly effective). That said, getting Marc back at all is great and if he gets a one longer shift or two short shifts a half, that’s great by me.
The other piece of this is that Joel Embiid isn’t going to play. And while we do not like injuries and prefer everyone be in good health, the Lakers being as shorthanded as they are do not have any sympathies to offer Philly. No, they’ll take them in whatever state they are and will be just fine with it.
That said, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris will play. As will the rest of the Sixers. And that team is good enough to blast these Lakers if they’re at the top of their game. The hope, then, is that they’re not. The Lakers can help push them in that direction with inspired defense in the half court, particularly on Harris, an emphasis on transition defense vs. Simmons and some smart offense that avoids turnovers and mistakes that can fuel Philly in the open court.
In the big picture, I do not expect the Lakers to win this game. Philly is better and have been playing quite well without Embiid. That said, I hope the Lakers play hard and compete at a level that is higher than what they showed in New Orleans where only Wes (and to a lesser extent Kuz) played with the urgency I’d like. Tonight, I hope the rest of the team joins them and then we’ll let the chips fall where they may.
Where you can watch: 7:00pm start time on Spectrum SportsNet and TNT.