The Los Angeles Lakers were able to grind it out with a 112-104 win versus the Boston Celtics in Kobe Bryant’s last game in the TD Garden. Now the Lakers return home to the Staples Center in the first game of the new year to face off against the Philadelphia 76ers.
In their last meeting, the Sixers defeated the Lakers 103-91 to snap the longest losing streak in league history. Given both teams’ poor records, each seem to be finally hitting their stride as both teams are looking for their first back-to-back victories since last season.
Anchoring the Sixers is the sixth pick of the 2013 Draft, Nerlens Noel. Noel has been plagued by injuries so far in his young career, dating back to his days as a Kentucky Wildcat. When healthy however, his length and athleticism make him a ferocious rim protector. Noel had a solid outing last game versus the Kings with 20 points, nine rebounds, and four steals.
Lining up next to Noel is the versatile Jarami Grant out of Syracuse. The 6’8″ Grant can do it all from hitting threes on offense to protecting the rim on the defensive end. The second-year forward can really fill up a stat-sheet. In his last game, he recorded 16 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks.
Handling the ball for the Sixers is the undrafted Ish Smith out of Wake Forest. Smith has been a God-sent for the Sixers, especially for Noel. Smith is a capable ball-handler, who is exceptional at running the pick-and-roll with Noel. He enjoyed himself a nice game against the Kings with 18 points, nine assists, and two steals.
Rounding out the lineup for Sixers is the sixth-year man out of Murray State, Isaiah Canaan. Canaan is the clear-cut three-point shooter on this team. In fact, 11 of his 18 shots last game were three-pointers. Although he was unable to get it going, Canaan is not afraid to keep shooting until he gets hot.
Keys To Victory:
Defend the Pick and Roll: Although the Lakers defense is worst in the league in terms of points surrendered, one thing they can start to focus on is defending the pick and roll. Teams have devastated the Lakers with this offense, most notably against the Thunder where Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams ran it successfully three times in a row. The Lakers can expect to see the same combination with Smith and Noel. If they are to get this win as expected, they will need to defend Philly’s bead and butter.
Continue to let the Offense Flow: There is no question that the Lakers offense has been at its best this year when more than one player touches the ball. However, they tend to get into the funk of taking turns going one-on-one rather than getting shots within the offense. The Lakers have had more of their shots contested than any other team in the league due to the fact that they don’t move the ball around very well. In order to make things easier for themselves, they will need to incorporate the offense more throughout the game.
Los Angeles Lakers (6-27) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (3-31)
7:30 P.M. PST, January 1, 2016
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English)/ 1330 (Spanish)
Sixer Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Ish Smith
SG: Isaiah Canaan
SF: JaKarr Sampson
PF: Jerami Grant
C: Nerlens Noel
Key Reserves: C Jahlil Okafor, SF Hollis Thompson, PF Robert Covington
Laker Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Lou Williams
SF: Anthony Brown
PF: Larry Nance Jr.
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: PF Julius Randle, PG D’Angelo Russell, PF Brandon Bass