By Sean Kennedy
While the majority of you are going to be watching the Nick Foles-Kyle Orton shootout tonight, the Sixers will be going up against a Lakers squad struggling nearly as much as them, as Los Angeles is the loser of four-straight contest. Instead of bottoming out this season, the Lakers planned to tread water until Kobe Bryant returned from his achilles injury. However, the Black Mamba is out again with a knee fracture after a brief return, and other players like Steve Nash and Steve Blake have been beset with injuries as well. Like it or not, the Lakers’ best course of action may be to shoot for a high draft pick this summer.
As for the guys on the court, Mike D’Antoni has them playing the 3rd-fastest pace in the NBA as part of his no-defense, jack threes system. The Lakers average the 4th-most 3-point field goal attempts per game, converting them at an above average 37.4%. Leading this long range barrage are a pair of former Sixers in Jodie Meeks (40.9%) and Nick Young (38.8%). Young leads the team in scoring off the bench and the Lakers fans have largely embraced the Swaggy P persona.
If there’s one area the Sixers can take advantage of the Lakers, it’s on the glass. Not surprisingly given the number of threes they take, Los Angeles has one of the lowest offensive rebounding rates in the league, while also sporting one of the worst defensive rebounding rates. Pau Gasol (upper respiratory illness) and Chris Kaman (ankle) are both game-time decisions for tonight’s game so the Lakers could even be at a further disadvantage on the boards. Evan Turner is expected to play tonight, and he and Thad Young could collect a ton of offensive rebounds to boost the Sixers attack.
Ultimately, as usual, it’s going to come down to three-point defense for the Sixers. The Lakers aren’t a team that the Sixers should struggle against offensively but would it surprise me to see Meeks and Nick Young combine to hit 8 threes in a Lakers rout? No, not really. When it comes to losing, to paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm, the Sixers find a way.