Source: Lakers.com
Source: Lakers.com
Source: Lakers.com

December 29, 2013 — 6:30 PM (PST)
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (13-17) head back home where they will play 4 consecutive home games starting tonight vs. Philadelphia 76ers (8-21), a team destined for the lottery this season. The Lakers let a very winnable game slip from them Friday vs. Utah Jazz despite great games from G/F Nick Young and C Chris Kaman. Young scored 21 points including 13of his points in the 3rd quarter but fouled out in middle of 4th quarter, which swung the momentum to Jazz’s favor, and Kaman scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as he replaced C Pau Gasol in the starting lineup.

However, the Lakers tonight will play tonight without Gasol due to an upper respiratory infection. To make matters worse, Chris Kaman suffered a sprained ankle during Friday’s game and his availability for tonight’s game is uncertain. The Lakers will have to finish at least 3-1 during this 4-game home stretch since they should defeat these next 4 opponents. They are currently suffering a 4-game losing streak, so getting these victories are very crucial to give themselves an opportunity to make a run at a playoff berth.

Meanwhile, the 76ers basically waived the white flag before the season even began, trading all-star PG Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for C Nerlens Noel, who still is recovering from a torn ACL suffered last January at University of Kentucky. However, the 76ers can definitely still make the playoffs this season in the very abysmal Eastern Conference especially with the play of their rookie PG Michael Carter-Williams. Williams, a 4th overall pick from University of Syracuse, will win the Rookie of the Year award if he stays healthy, averaging 18.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 7.7 APG. The 76ers lost 7 straight games during the beginning of December when Carter-Williams was recovering from a freak bacterial infection in his knee.

UPDATE: Kaman will play tonight (sprained ankle), but C/F Jordan Hill will now start at the Center position.

Projected Starters

PG - Michael-Carter Williams Jordan Farmar [Advantage: 76ers]

SG - Evan Turner / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: 76ers]

SF - Hollis Thompson Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Even]

PF - Thaddeous Young Shawne Williams [Advantage: 76ers]

C - Spencer Hawes Jordan Hill [Advantage: Even]

Notable Bench Players

76ers: G Tony Wroten, James Anderson, Elliot Williams, C/F Lavoy Allen

Lakers: G/F Nick YoungXavier Henry, F Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Keys for Lakers Success

  1. Make Open Shots: The 76ers allow the 3rd highest FG % at 47.1% and the 4th highest 3pt % allowed at 38.3%. If the Lakers shooters, notably G Jodie Meeks, F Shawne Williams, and G Nick Young, can make open shots tonight, the Lakers will come away with an easy win tonight. This matchup is very advantageous for Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced offense since they should have great wide open shots especially on fast breaks. Furthermore, the 76ers have nobody who can protect the basket, so expect the Lakers, especially PG Jordan Farmar, to drive to the basket very often and attack the paint so either he can get a layup or wait until the defense collapses on him so he can kick the ball out to all the Lakers shooters.
  2. Stop Michael Carter-Williams: Since Evan Turner’s ability to play tonight at full strength is uncertain, all 5 defenders have to keep their eye on Carter-Williams. With Carter-Williams on the floor, the 76ers play much better, having a 7-10 record. The Lakers have had a lot of problems keeping guards in front of them on defense, causing big men like Kaman and Gasol to help out, leading to wide-open dunks. Since Farmar is back however, they should not have as much trouble keeping players like Carter-Williams in front of them and contain them.

Bottom Line

This game is a must win for the Lakers. Why? Because the 76ers are one of the few NBA teams that should be an easy win for the Lakers on paper. Although the 76ers have more talent than the Lakers on the starting lineup, the Lakers clearly have a much better chemistry and play better together than the 76ers. Also, PG Jordan Farmar‘s return makes the Lakers’ offense and defense much better since he’s a natural vocal floor leader for the Lakers. Lets hope that the Lakers can come away with a stress-free victory tonight to finally snap their 4-game losing streak.

Prediction

Lakers: 114-97