Game Preview | Different Looks Expected for Embiid
CAMDEN, NJ - Whether it was Brook Lopez or Andrew Bogut at the outset of the game, or Julius Randle down the stretch, guarding Joel Embiid was no easy venture for the Los Angeles Lakers the last time they faced the 76ers.
Against the Purple and Gold November 15th at STAPLES Center, Embiid, simply put, was an overpowering force, leaving his mark with a massive box line highlighted by 46 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 7 blocked shots. Before the tilt’s tip, no NBA player of record had ever reached those numbers in a single game.
Embiid achieved the feat, in part, by attacking the Lakers’ post defenders with an array of jaw-dropping scoring maneuvers - wing jumpers, 3-pointers, putbacks, step-throughs, spin moves, up-and-unders, and dunks. He went 14 for 20 from the field, nailed 16 of 19 free throws, and, most important of all to him, committed a mere 2 turnovers.
Yes, Embiid was unstoppable that night. But on the eve of Thursday’s re-match with L.A. (8:00 PM EST; TNT, 97.5 FM The Fanatic / Sixers Radio Network), Brett Brown wasn’t expecting history to repeat itself, literally or figuratively.
“You’d be really shocked if they do what they did again,” Brown said Wednesday at the 76ers Training Complex. “We’re not game-planning for that at all.”
In the first go-round with the Lakers, the lasting impression left on Brown was that in the midst of an incredible fourth quarter effort that saw Embiid deliver some of his most dazzling sequences, Randle was essentially left to deal with Embiid on his own. Embiid has about 4 inches in height, and 30 pounds in weight on Randle, a fellow 2014 lottery pick. He seized the moment accordingly.
Listen to NBA on TNT reporter David Aldridge discuss the 76ers, and their promising start to the season:
During the final frame alone, Embiid racked up 19 points on 6 for 7 shooting, as the Sixers put the game out of reach.
“The last period was just very singular on my aspect of let’s just get him the ball,” Brown recalled. “We’ll run the same play 10 times in a row, and we did.”
After all, why stop when the results were so successful?
Come Thursday, both head coach and player anticipate that the lay of the land will be different.
“I’d expect you’re going to see some larger defenders on him in single-coverage opportunities, and I certainly expect them to double-team him when that’s not happening,” Brown said, “for 46 reasons.”
Embiid also believes Los Angeles will be more aggressive than it was three weeks ago, when the double-teams he received came primarily from the baseline, top of the key, and on digs.
“I expect them to go a little bit harder than that,” said the 23-year old.
Regardless of whether the Lakers alter their approach, Embiid remains, to no surprise, confident.
“As long as they feed me,” Embiid said of his Sixers teammates. “I’ve got a pretty good chance.”
The adjustments that Embiid and Los Angeles make to one another represents just one subplot in a contest underscored by a more significant overarching theme, at least for the home team. The Sixers weren’t very pleased with how things went in their most recent game, a loss to Phoenix on Monday. The goal is to make amends.
“Life in the NBA is made up of respect, and being able to play as many of the 48 minutes, as many of the 82 games - whether you’re the Golden State Warriors or the Philadelphia 76ers - as you can,” Brown said Wednesday. “How are we going to react?”
The work put in Wednesday during a near 2-hour long practice was a solid place to start.
“It all equals just have great days,” the fifth-year head coach told his club. “Let’s have a great day. I promise you, they’ll all add up.”
If Embiid has another one of his own against the Lakers, in this instance under the bright lights of a nationally televised game, the Sixers’ odds of bouncing back figure to be pretty good.
After hovering around the .500 mark for the first month of play in 2017-2018, the Los Angeles Lakers (8-15) are currently enduring a season-long 5-game losing streak. Versatile forward Kyle Kuzma was tabbed Western Conference Rookie of the Month for October-November, and paces the Lakers with an average of 16.8 points per game (he’s third on the team with 6.5 rpg, and second with 37 3fgm). His fellow draft classmate, Lonzo Ball, accounts for 8.7 points, 6.9 boards, and 7.0 assists, while shooting 31.3 percent from the field. Thursday’s visit to The Center marks the start of a 4-game Eastern Conference trek for L.A.
• Video: NBA on TNT
• Audio: 97.5 FM The Fanatic / Sixers Radio Network