There are a handful of games this season that the Los Angeles Lakers wish they had back and at or near the top of that list is the team’s contest against the Philadelphia 76ers. Now, LeBron James and the Lakers will look to erase the memory of that heartbreaking loss and snap their two-game losing streak while they’re at it.
The first meeting between these teams was a wild affair that saw the Lakers somehow erase a 12-point deficit in the last 2.5 minutes. Anthony Davis had a chance to give the Lakers a lead with just seconds remaining but split a pair of free throws and the Lakers would then fall apart in overtime.
Of course, the Lakers are now without some key pieces for this second meeting with Davis, Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV all out due to injury. Patrick Beverley will also miss his second consecutive game due to illness.
Getting a win over the 76ers won’t be easy as they rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating and have a trio of players capable of taking over a game in Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. Perimeter defense will be of the utmost importance.
That will start with Dennis Schroder and rookie Max Christie, who has gained the trust of the Lakers coaching staff recently and gives excellent effort on both ends of the court. Juan Toscano-Anderson and Troy Brown Jr. will likely also spend plenty of time trying to contain the 76ers backcourt duo.
How Thomas Bryant handles going up against one of the league’s best in Embiid will be something to watch as well. Bryant has been as good as anyone could have hoped since Davis went down and the Lakers need him to stay out of foul trouble, which is no easy feat as Embiid is second in the league in free throw attempts per game.
Of course in the end for the Lakers, James is the catalyst for this team and he will need to be on point in all facets of the game to uplift this team. It will be on LeBron and Russell Westbrook to create for their teammates, but they must do so without turning the ball over. The 76ers are fourth in the league in points off turnovers so the Lakers must do everything they can to not allow Philadelphia to get easy buckets.
The 3-point line could wind up being the deciding factor as well with Philadelphia ranking in the top 10 in 3-pointers made and top five in 3-point percentage. They made seven more 3s than the Lakers in the first meeting and that kind of gap is hard to overcome.
Los Angeles Lakers (19-23) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (26-16)
6:30 p.m. PT, January 15, 2023
Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, NBA TV
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Troy Brown Jr.
SF: Juan Toscano-Anderson
PF: LeBron James
C: Thomas Bryant
Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Max Christie, Wenyen Gabriel, Kendrick Nunn
Projected 76ers Starting Lineup:
PG: James Harden
SG: De’Anthony Melton
SF: Tobias Harris
PF: P.J. Tucker
C: Joel Embiid
Key Reserves: Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle, Georges Niang, Montrezl Harrell
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