Late tonight, the 37-24, Eastern Conference 5-seed Sixers will take on the 46-13, Western Conference 1-seed Los Angeles Lakers in the second of the Sixers’ four-game West Coast road trip.
Tonight’s Staples Center matchup comes on the heels of the Sixers’ spirited, yet undermanned, effort in the same arena on Sunday versus the Clippers. The team lost by only six to the star-studded, fully healthy Clips, due in large part to a career game from second-year guard Shake Milton, who put on a shooting clinic en route to 39 points. Milton will once again be asked to shoulder a large offensive load as an even more daring test awaits the team tonight. The Sixers enter the game 6-4 over their last 10 games.
The Lakers have consistently been the NBA’s second-best team this year thanks to a rejuvenated, MVP-caliber season from LeBron James and seamless pairing between the King and superstar big man Anthony Davis. James leads the NBA in assists at age 35, and seems as deadly as ever to opposing defenses. On Saturday, the Lakers had a seven-game win streak snapped by Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies, before going on to win the second game of their road back-to-back in New Orleans on Sunday night. The team has a 5.5-game lead on the second-seeded Clippers and Denver Nuggets.
To call tonight’s matchup a ‘tall order’ for the visiting Sixers would be an understatement. First, the injuries: the team will be without not only point guard Ben Simmons (back) and center Joel Embiid (shoulder), but also shooting guard Josh Richardson (concussion), who collided with teammate Alec Burks during the second quarter of Sunday’s game. Finding a way to score in this game will be difficult to say the least — the team is going to have to rely on strong performances from Shake, Tobias Harris and (gulp) Al Horford to keep up with LA. As for the starting lineup, I would guess that Brett Brown decides to roll out Milton - Glenn Robinson III - Matisse Thybulle - Harris - Horford. While Thybulle doesn’t maximize the unit’s scoring potential, he is most likely the team’s best hope of somewhat containing LeBron due to the absences of Simmons and J-Rich.
For the Lakers, bench guard and undeserving All Star vote-getter Alex Caruso is questionable with a hamstring injury, as is Anthony Davis with a knee. If Davis misses the game, the plucky Sixers may have a puncher’s chance at stunning the home Lakers and finally, mercifully reaching 10 road Ws. If Davis plays at full strength, it will be a long night.
It feels like Process days of old. Stay up and watch with us!
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
When: 10:00 pm ET
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic