While some would look at the Lakers and view them as underachieving, I’d argue they’re on pace for exactly what everyone thought they would be. They sit at a lackluster 10-14 record, which is good enough for 13th in the Western Conference. Thus far, they’ve been unwilling to deal future firsts to move off of Russell Westbrook’s massive contract, who is their main moveable salary to bring back helpful players.
While their roster is mostly bland, they still have two tremendous talents in LeBron James and Anthony Davis — who was on an absolute tear before missing a game and a half with an illness. Factoring out their last game against Cleveland where Davis left early, he was averaging over 35 points and 15 rebounds a game over his last nine. Both James and Davis were held out of their Wednesday game against Toronto, but were announced as probable for tonight’s game.
Behind their star duo, there isn’t much to highlight. Westbrook, who is now coming off the bench, is averaging career-lows across the board — logging just under 28 minutes per game. On the flip side, Lonnie Walker, a Reading, Pennsylvania native, has been putting up a career-high 16.2 points with a bonafide starting role. Good for him.
The Lakers’ lack of talent is reflected in their offensive rating, which only ranks 22nd in the entire league. Their defense, on the other hand, ranks a respectable 10th place in the NBA.
Factoring in Davis possibly dealing with a lingering illness, it seems like a very winnable game, right? On paper, the Sixers are the much better team, but if the script for Sixers’ games plays out like it has in recent memory it’ll probably be a five-point game with two minutes left to go.
While the Lakers probably met preseason expectations, the Sixers haven’t. Their star duo of James Harden and Joel Embiid are back, which is a good thing. What isn’t good is the fact that the team is 2-5 on the season when both play, featuring losses against the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets.
You’d think the Sixers’ offense would excel between two players averaging over 20 points a game, but it’s just been putrid. The ball sticks between Harden and Embiid, and there’s often two or three players just floating around that’ll never touch the ball on a reliable basis.
Thankfully, the Sixers have been trending in the right direction health-wise. Harden is back on a “minutes restriction” that is apparently 40 minutes per game. We also received a minor Woj Bomb that Tyrese Maxey is still on schedule with his month-long recovery period:
Woj: “I’m told [Maxey] is still on target for that one month timeline… that takes you to about two weeks from now” pic.twitter.com/cu1HmhJZTg— Harrison Grimm (@Harrison_Grimm) December 7, 2022
Outside of Maxey, the Sixers have two rotation players listed on their injury report: Georges Niang and Danuel House Jr. Niang has been ruled out in advance of this game with foot soreness, something to keep an eye on as he was questionable heading into the previous game. House Jr. is questionable with a foot laceration.
On the Lakers side, both James and Davis are listed as probable. Wenyen Gabriel, Scotty Pippen Jr., Cole Swider, and Juan Toscano-Anderson have all been ruled out.
Hopefully, we’ve seen the lowest of the lows for this season. It can’t get any worse, right? Let’s hope the Sixers can bounce back on a nationally-televised stage.
The Sixers will tip off against the Lakers at 7:30 p.m. All nationally televised NBA games can be watched on Sling TV.