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Lakers vs. Sixers Preview: How legit is L.A.’s defense?

The Lakers will face a Sixers team that currently has the league’s third best offense pioneered by Joel Embiid who currently leads the league in scoring

Los Angeles Lakers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The Lakers’ next test will be against the league’s reigning MVP Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers as both teams will square off for the first time this season on Monday.

Start time and TV schedule

Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Philadelphia 76ers

When: 4 p.m. PT, Nov. 27

Where: Wells Fargo Center

Watch: NBA TV and Spectrum Sportsnet

The Lakers deserve credit for nabbing a victory in Cleveland despite multiple injuries to their key rotation players. Not only did they start their current four-game road trip on a strong note but they’ve now won seven out of their last 10 games. It’s encouraging that this team is trending in the right direction as they finish off a tough November schedule.

That’s why it’s not such a bad thing that L.A. will be taking on Philadelphia now when momentum is on their side. It’s an interesting test because the Sixers currently have the league’s third-best offense pioneered by Embiid who leads the league in scoring (32.1).

It’ll also be nice for the Lakers to snap their six-game losing streak to the Sixers as they haven’t won against them since March 2020. Their losses to Philadelphia over the last three years have been frustratingly close ones and it’s time that changes on Monday. Here are three storylines to look out for heading into this match:

Is the Lakers’ defense really trending upward?

Perhaps the biggest progress for the Lakers over the last two weeks is their defense, which is now ranked ninth-best in the league. It helps that they’ve faced a couple of subpar teams during this stretch but given who’s been in and out of the lineup, the purple and gold deserve credit for how they’ve been competing defensively as of late.

Now, it’s time to measure how legit the Lakers’ defense really is against a Nick Nurse-coached team. As the good people over at Liberty Ballers pointed out, the Sixers are averaging 119.9 points per 100 possessions to begin the year, which is on track to be their best in franchise history. It’ll be fascinating to observe how the Lakers defense holds up against Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and crew.

AD vs Embiid

A big reason why the Lakers’ defense has trended upward over the past two weeks is because of Anthony Davis, who deserves to be in the race for the DPOY award this year. Coming off his best game of the season against the Cavs, AD will most likely be tasked to contain Embiid on Monday and that’s going to be a heavyweight matchup.

A compelling fact about these two players is that they’ve faced each other seven times throughout their careers and it’s Embiid who has the right to brag about winning six of those. It’s about time for AD to have a statement victory. Can he limit the league’s current best scorer? If Davis gets to, that would be great for L.A.’s chances because they’re going to dare everyone but Embiid to beat them.

Will Max Christie continue to shine?

Speaking of everyone but Embiid, one player the Lakers really need to look out for is Maxey who is averaging 26.4 points a game on 40.2% shooting from the three-point line. The 23-year-old possesses a tough challenge for the Lakers, especially since the purple and gold don’t really have the best perimeter defense.

Now the question is, will Darvin Ham opt to give sophomore Max Christie the assignment to guard one of the best young players in the league? Christie, who was inserted in the starting lineup last game, was praised by Ham and his teammates for a job well done guarding Donovan Mitchell. Will the guard continue to shine and prove why he deserves a permanent role in the rotation? This is the time when Christie should take advantage.

We’ll see how these three storylines play out on Monday as the Lakers look to make it two in a row.

Notes and Updates:

  • The Lakers list Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis), Gabe Vincent (left knee effusion) and Rui Hachimura (nasal fracture) are listed as out. Anthony Davis (left adductor/hip spasm) is probable while LeBron James (left calf contusion) and Cam Reddish (left adductor soreness) are questionable.
  • Meanwhile, for the Sixers, Kelly Oubre Jr. (ribs) and Danuel House Jr. (quadriceps) will not be suiting up.

You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani

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