The Los Angeles Lakers were able to salvage their four-game road trip with a 100-93 victory over the Phoenix Suns, now returning to the confines of home with a 6-8 record.
After an off day on Tuesday, head coach Luke Walton and his team shifted their attention to Wednesday, with young prospects Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram opposing Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
This matchup at Staples Center will be an entertaining contest, as both teams have built a positive scenario in their respective front offices and talent on the court. The fans will be on the edge of their seats, with all of the NBA getting a glimpse at some of the premier young talents in the NBA.
Wednesday’s contest will be the first matchup this season between the Lakers and 76ers, before Los Angeles travels to Philadelphia for a road game on Dec. 7. Head coach Brett Brown has his team playing well and selflessly, ranking second in the NBA in assists per game. While the 76ers have been mainly addressing their concerns through the draft in previous years, they have also turned into a formidable lure for free agents with their optimistic outlook.
The 76ers have two premier talents on their roster, with Simmons handling the backcourt. After not appearing at all last season with the foot injury, Simmons was able to work on his repertoire and gain a season in the NBA under his belt before actually playing in his first game. Since then, he has turned into a Lebron James-type point-forward, running Brown’s offense in just his rookie season.
Alongside him in the backcourt is offseason signee J.J. Redick, who signed a one-year, $23 million deal after his free agent experience. The sharpshooter is a player that demands one person constantly shadowing him on his cuts on the court, a direct beneficiary of a motion offense and constant screens.
T.J. McConnell is another capable point guard that comes off the bench, after being a capable starter last season. His basketball IQ and grittiness makes for a boost off the bench, contributing in all areas of the game. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is another second-year player that plays key minutes off the Philadelphia bench, with the Frenchman recently having a coming out party against the Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers have a similar outlook with their backcourt, with their playmaking point guard and streaky shooter on the wing. Ball is the conductor of Walton’s offense, with an intelligence and understanding of the game that has opposing coaches in awe. Although his shooting hasn’t exactly panned out to start the season, Walton still has the utmost confidence in his rookie, impacting the game whether the shots are falling or not.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was a key factor in the win against the Suns, providing consistent shooting and a strong defensive presence. His lateral quickness and active hands make him the best on-ball defender the Lakers have, taking on the challenge each night against the competition particularly in the Western Conference.
Jordan Clarkson was the other key piece to the Lakers sixth victory of the season, leading the team in scoring with a season-high output of 25. While his scoring off the bench is always welcome, Walton still wants the sixth-man to find a better balance between dribbling and making quick decisions.
On the other hand, the 76ers have another budding star in Embiid to guide the frontcourt. Embiid, aside from his comedy on social media, has blossomed into a dominant presence on both sides of the floor. He was able to dominate DeAndre Jordan during their 109-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, dropping 32 points and 16 rebounds. While his main concern will always be his health, Embiid has shown in a short time that he has all the tools to turn into an All-Star-type talent.
Fellow 76ers draft pick Dario Saric is another project that has panned out for Philadelphia, with a strong understanding of the game and a capable scorer. He can shoot from beyond the arc and in the paint, providing spacing on the floor.
Small forward Robert Covington has been the third option for Brown, totaling 31 points against the Clippers Monday night. The bulky player also can space out the floor, while facilitating and crashing the glass.
Richuan Holmes is another big man off the bench for the 76ers, a physical presence that likes to score in the paint. Amir Johnson also came over to this team in free agency, another physical presence that has a relentless motor in the paint.
Brook Lopez remains the key component of the offense, as a low-post scoring option that can also space the floor. The offense of Los Angeles runs much more smoothly when Lopez establishes himself in the paint, as it takes the pressure off of Ball and Brandon Ingram.
Kyle Kuzma will have yet another chance on Wednesday to build into his tremendous rookie campaign, turning into the steal of the 2017 NBA Draft. His offensive repertoire is something his opponents have come to respect, while also making an impact in other areas of the game. However, his shooting touch is what is the usual telltale sign of his success, while he continues to work on his defensive approach.
Julius Randle is the other scoring option off the bench alongside Clarkson, accommodating to his newfound role. While he has seemed frustrated at times, Randle has been able to flourish in this role, dominating against the opponent’s bigs off the bench. His aggressive nature and ability to run the floor also help the team in transition, with Walton wanting his team to get up and down the court as much as possible.
Andrew Bogut was able to have his most productive game of the season, making a difference in the point whether it was via blocked shots or impacting shot attempts at the rim. He was able to match up against the likes of Alex Len and Tyson Chandler during their clash versus the Suns, boxing out and crashing the glass after shot attempts.
Three Keys To Victory:
Attack the Glass: The 76ers have a starting lineup that can all collect rebounds, aside from Redick. That can translate to a lot of second-chance opportunities and offensive rebounds, meaning Los Angeles has to do a stellar job of boxing out and ending possessions with a rebound.
Keep Shooting: The Lakers cannot afford to get stagnant with their shooting, even if they rank as the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA. They have to shoot their open shots with confidence, including those shots they are getting via offensive execution.
Play Smart in Transition: It is no secret the Lakers have had their fair share of turnovers this season, turning many possible buckets into wasted opportunities. If they can do a better job of cleaning up the risky passes, they can separate themselves in the transition game.
Los Angeles Lakers (6-8) Vs. Philadelphia 76ers (7-6)
7:30 P.M. PST, November 14, 2017
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Corey Brewer, Vander Blue, Andrew Bogut
Projected 76ers Starting Lineup:
PG: Ben Simmons
SG: J.J. Redick
SF: Robert Covington
PF: Dario Saric
C: Joel Embiid
Key Reserves: T.J. McConnell, Amir Johnson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Justin Anderson