(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)
3 Things to Know: Lakers vs. 76ers
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers return home against the Philadelphia 76ers.
1) We’ve got a battle between two of the NBA’s best young cores
In all likelihood a handful of future all-stars will be taking the court tonight. On the Lakers’ side there are Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. The Sixers’ end features Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Robert Covington.
With all this young talent, it will be interesting to see which matchups prove most important toward the final result.
Ball and Simmons are both stat-sheet-filling, oversized point guards that affect nearly every area of the game. Simmons — essentially a power forward that directs the offense — has been nearly impossible to stop from getting to the hoop, and the Lakers will have to decide which of their players is best suited to guard him.
Embiid, meanwhile, has already proven himself a superstar just one year into the league. His 3-point shot hasn’t been falling this season, but he is a monster on the block and leads the NBA in post-up scoring. Coach Luke Walton will match size for size with Brook Lopez in the starting lineup, but he could turn to Julius Randle for a small-ball look if Embiid gets off to a fast start.
While Simmons and Embiid — both top-two draft picks — deservedly receive the most attention on the 76ers, Covington has been the epitome of a 3 and D wing this season, hitting the NBA’s third-most 3-pointers (3.7) on the fifth-best clip (50.0 percent) while also ranking third in deflections (3.5).
The small forward battle between Ingram and Covington (coming off a career-high 31-point night) could very well swing this matchup.
2) The Lakers’ point guards have led the way lately
Four days removed from recording the youngest triple-double in NBA history, all eyes will be on Lonzo Ball in this nationally televised tilt.
Ball’s shooting struggles have been well-documented, but the 20-year-old went 7-of-12 in that triple-double performance, and an encore of that aggressiveness and shooting would go a long way against Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, the Lakers can essentially count on Jordan Clarkson putting in 15-plus off the bench.
Clarkson was the key in Monday’s win over Phoenix, scoring 25 points by filling the bucket at the rim, from mid-range and on 3-pointers.
He has been reliable all year, scoring the NBA’s third-most points off the bench (15.5) while shooting the second-best field goal percentage among point guards (51.2).
If at least one of the Lakers’ point guards can find a scoring rhythm, the rest of the offense should follow in a battle between two of the NBA’s fastest-paced teams.
3) This game could be won at the 3-point line
The Lakers hit a season-best 14 3-pointers in their win over Phoenix, and will likely need some of that long-range success against the 76ers.
L.A. ranks last in the NBA in both made triples (7.3) and 3-point percentage (30.2), while Philadelphia checks in among the top five in both (12.1 made; 38.8 percent).
Fortunately for the purple and gold, they have been excellent on the opposite 3-point arc.
The Lakers’ fourth-ranked defense is holding opponents to a league-low 31.3 percent clip on triples, keeping them in just about every game this season.
While that defense will be crucial, the Lakers will also need some shooting of their own, so look for Clarkson, Lopez or Ball to heat up from beyond the arc.
Lakers: Larry Nance Jr. (fractured second metacarpal, left hand) is out.
76ers: Jerryd Bayless (left wrist contusion) and Jahlil Okafor (upper respiratory infection) are out. Markelle Fultz (right shoulder soreness/scapular muscle imbalance) and Nik Stauskas (right ankle sprain) are out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: MPLS Blue
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California