The Los Angeles Lakers are out to grow their Western Conference lead when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. The Lakers have a four-game lead on the Utah Jazz for the top spot in the Western Conference, but they are 2-2 in their last four games coming into this tilt. They were blown out by the Boston Celtics on Monday night, but they bounced back against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night to move to 35-9 on the year. Los Angeles will face Brooklyn on Thursday night ahead of this game, while the Sixers will have two days of rest after losing on the road to Toronto on Wednesday night.
This game will take place at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on January 25, 2020, and the game will be broadcast on ABC.
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Head-To-Head Results to Date
This is the first of two meetings between these teams this season. The 76ers and Lakers are both seen as contenders to win the NBA title this season, and it wouldn’t take much to see these two teams meet in the NBA Finals at the end of the year. The Lakers are currently favored to win the Western Conference, while the 76ers are the third favorites in the Eastern Conference behind Milwaukee and Boston.
Philadelphia is optimistic that Joel Embiid will return to the lineup on Saturday night. The 76ers’ star center has sat out for the last two weeks due to a dislocated finger, and the team has struggled without him on the court. Embiid can take over a game with his size down low, and he leads the team with 23.4 PPG and 12.3 RPG. However, he has yet to shake his oft-injured reputation, and that has some doubting whether he will be healthy enough for an extended playoff run. Additionally, the Sixers might not have shooting guard Josh Richardson available due to a hamstring issue.
DeMarcus Cousins is a long-term injury for the Lakers, so that deprives the purple and gold of a big man until the postseason. This team is hoping that Devontae Cacok can fill the void, but he has been sidelined with a foot issue. Cacok has a chance to return to the lineup on Saturday night, and that would give this team a boost since Anthony Davis has only recently returned from injury too.
Player to Watch
It’s hard not to highlight LeBron James as the player to watch whenever he is on the court. James has completely changed his game to make the Lakers even better this season. He is setting up teammates more often than ever, allowing Anthony Davis and other players to get off great shots thanks to the attention he receives with the ball in his hands. James currently leads the NBA with 10.8 APG, and he could lead the league in assists for the first time in his career.
The one-two punch of James and Davis is hard to stop. These two are lethal on the high pick and roll, and both players can create and distribute with relative ease. Philadelphia has had some problems on defense for all their talent on offense, and Davis and James could both go off against the Sixers.
Philadelphia has one of the best home records in basketball. The Sixers are 20-2 at home, and that’s the only reason they are still in contention to host a first-round series given how they have played on the road. Despite that gaudy record, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Lakers favored to win per the NBA betting odds, and that is likely the right play.
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