The Lakers meet the Philadelphia 76ers for the first time this season on Friday on the latter’s home court. It will be a matchup between two teams that are off to a rough start to the season, but one that will ultimately highlight a superstar showdown between Anthony Davis and Joel Embiid — two of the league’s best big men currently playing at a high level.
The matchup (yes, it’s a matchup, not a rivalry, at least yet) between Davis and Embiid goes back five seasons ago. Interestingly, the Process has gotten the best out of the Brow five times in all the six regular season games they’ve played against each other. What’s also mesmerizing is that these two superb talents have averaged almost identical stats against each other.
Currently, Davis is in the middle of his best stretch as a Laker, averaging 27.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals per game on 59% shooting, including a 55-point output versus the Washington Wizards and a 44-point dominant performance against the Milwaukee Bucks in the last week.
Meanwhile, Embiid (who has been in the MVP conversations for the past three seasons) is once again having another promising campaign, racking up 31.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.8 blocks per game on 51.4% shooting.
But, despite the success of their superstars on the court this season, both the Lakers and Sixers have struggled due to injuries and consistency. Their offenses are mediocre to say the least, and both teams depend heavily on their best players to put on an MVP-type performance to have a shot to win every game. That’s why Friday’s showdown is going to be a treat as Davis and Embiid will have to put their team on their backs and go up against each other.
For the Lakers — who are currently on a two-game losing streak — to have a shot, they need to start knocking down their perimeter shots. In the past two games, they’ve only made 13 out of their last 69 three-pointers. That’s horrendous. They also might want to size up a bit, especially against the Sixers’ heavy guard and wing lineups that include James Harden, Tobias Harris and PJ Tucker. Lastly, they need to make sure that Harris doesn’t get hot because the notable Laker killer always goes off against the Lakers.
We’ll see who between AD and Embiid can lead their teams to victory on Friday, and who leaves the hardwood with the bragging rights.
Notes and Updates
- Speaking of AD and Embiid, here’s a fun fact. These two players are the only big men to post 50+ point games (55 for Davis this December and 59 for Embiid last November) so far this season. Outside of the bigs, only Devin Booker (51), Darius Garland (51) and Stephen Curry (50) have achieved such feat so far.
- On the injury report for the Lakers, Anthony Davis (non-COVID illness) and LeBron James (left ankle soreness) are probable to make their returns, while Wenyen Gabriel (left shoulder sprain) remains out.
- As expected, Juan Toscano-Anderson (right ankle sprain) is also out. Our own Dr. Brar did a video on his likely timeline.
- Meanwhile, two-way players Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider remain on assignment in the G League with the South Bay Lakers.
- As for the Sixers, rising All-Star guard Tyrese Maxey (foot) won’t be in uniform, which is a huge advantage for the Lakers. Georges Niang (foot) is listed as day-to-day.
- In other news, in case you missed it, WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner is now freed from Russian prison. You can read more about that here.
The Lakers and Sixers will tip off at 4:30 p.m. PT on Friday. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN and locally on Spectrum SportsNet.