Posted by: C. Smith
02/06/12 12:52 pm EST
This Monday edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews key upcoming 76ers games — features tonight’s opponent, the dreaded Los Angeles Lakers.
The Sixers — winning 5 of their last 6 — are about as hot as they have ever been over the last two years and outside of the 3rd and 4th quarters against the Heat, we really like the way the team is playing right now. We’re getting contributions from everyone of offense – including the rookies Lavoy Allen and “Big Nik”. On the other end of the court, we are playing the usual lights out defense that Collins preaches.
Throw in the fact that this is the 3rd game in a 6-game east road swing for the LAL as well as this stat — the LAL are 3-8 on the road this season — and we really like our chances of seeing the Sixers get their 13th home victory of the year tonight.
That being said, this will not be an easy win for Philadunkia’s home team to grab. There are a couple reasons for that statement. The first is that this group of Lakers has simply owned the Sixers in recent years. The Lakers have won 5 of the last 6 between the two teams, beat the Sixers twice last year and have won four straight at the Wells Fargo Center. So history is not on the 7-6’s side in this match-up. Of course the Sixers team that will take the court tonight vs. the LAL is vastly different then the one LA has faced in recent years, so this could be the night LA’s dominance of this Sixers roster comes to an end.
The second is the obvious one — that guy named Kobe. “The Black Mamba” loves to put up big numbers in front of the perceived “hometown crowd” that hates him so much. Much like MJ he feeds of the hatred spewing from the seats at the WFC and it drives him to put the dagger in our hearts every trip to Philly. Last season the Sixers tried Holiday, Iguodala and others on Kobe in an effort to slow him down and were met with mixed results. At the WFC in early December last season, the Sixers (mostly Iguodala) held Kobe to 9 points on 3-11 shooting. Then late last December in LA, Kobe rang the Sixers up for 33 & 4 when Dre missed the game because of injury. For the record that’s a 21 ppg. average vs. the Sixers in 2010-11. We think the 9 point effort was a rare happening for #24 in blue and gold and you know the moment the booing starts tonight you’ll see the fire in Kobe’s eyes and a wicked grin on his face – so look for another big run from Kobe tonight.
The third reason the Sixers will need a max effort tonight in order to pull of a win is the two headed monster that is the Lakers frontcourt. Andrew Bynum is back and looks great and Pau Gasol has been rock solid this season. Gasol absolutely owned the Sixers during 2010-11 as he averaged 20 & 10.5 in the two games between the teams in last year. In the first game last season Bynum had 8 & 15. Because of injury, Bynum was a non-factor in the second run last year. Just as an FYI, Bynum is hitting for 21 & 10 in his last four games. The stats say the Sixers interior defense has improved only slightly since last year, which is not good, thus we expect the Lakers to pound the ball inside and let these two go to work. Unless Hawes, Brand, Allen and Vucevic can make a surprising stand against the Laker bigs, that LAL game plan will spell tough sledding for the Sixers.
Still if the Sixers can slow down one of these two facets of the Lakers attack, while also getting out on the break and running vs. the ancient Lakers and playing up to the solid overall standards they have established for themselves over this 2011-12, a win is an absolute possibility tonight.
For a little more insight into the Lakers team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Brian Kamenetzky from ESPNLA.com / Land O’Lakers to answer four questions on this Lakers squad from an insider’s perspective