The Philadelphia 76ers try to earn a rare road win Tuesday when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers for an interconference showdown. Philadelphia won the first meeting between these two teams this season, but that was when the 76ers had a healthy Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in the lineup.
Philadelphia’s two All-Stars are both sidelined with injuries, as is guard Josh Richardson, who suffered a concussion on Sunday. That’s not good news when the 76ers are only 9-22 on the road this season and facing the Western Conference’s top team in the Lakers. Los Angeles currently has a 5.5-game lead on both the Denver Nuggets and the LA Clippers for the top spot in the West.
Los Angeles is a 12.5-point favorite in this one, with the over/under set at 220.5.
With Embiid, Simmons and Richardson out of action, Philadelphia has to find a way to make up 53.9 points per game of production. That puts the onus on forward Tobias Harris to have a big game and exceed his current 19.2-ppg average. Harris played in Staples Center as a Clipper before coming to Philadelphia, so he may be ready for a good game in this one.
Forward Al Horford is also going to be counted on for more, especially against the Lakers’ imposing front line. He had just 12 points against the Clippers on Sunday, but he added eight rebounds and six assists to help the Sixers’ offense run smooth with 130 points in the loss.
The biggest story of Sunday’s loss was the emergence of Shake Milton, who erupted for a career-high 39 points, including 7-of-9 shooting from three-point range. Milton is only averaging 8.8 points on the season even after that big game, but he hits 46.6 percent from three-point range, so the Lakers will be paying attention to him throughout the game.
The Lakers have jelled as a team this season, thanks in part to the chemistry between their two superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. In his first year in Los Angeles, Davis is leading the team in scoring (26.4 points) and rebounding (9.4), but he may sit this one out with a sore right knee that kept him out Sunday.
When Davis isn’t playing, that means James steps up his offensive game, as he did against New Orleans Sunday, finishing with 34 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds for his 13th triple-double of the season, tying Dallas’ Luke Doncic for the league lead. James continues to lead the league in assists per game with 10.6 per game.
Forward Kyle Kuzma is also dangerous as a scorer, whether Davis plays or not. He had 20 against the Pelicans and is averaging 12.7 per game, primarily as a reserve. When the Lakers get hot from long range, they can be almost unstoppable, and James, Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green are all capable of getting hot and taking over a game from beyond the arc.
Too Much To Handle
Philadelphia showed some spirit in the loss to the Clippers on Sunday, but the Lakers will be prepared for that potential offensive outburst. Los Angeles has a big stretch of games coming up, with contests against the Bucks, Clippers, Rockets and Nuggets over the next two weeks. The Lakers need as many wins as possible to wrap up the top seed in the Western Conference, so they’ll be focused on beating a short-handed Sixers squad.
The question is, will they cover the 12.5-point spread? Los Angeles has not been great at covering big spreads this season, even when they win. I see the Sixers being able to at least stay within 12, so I’m going with Philadelphia +12.5 in this one.