Embiid, Sixers look for season sweep against Ball, Lakers

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia 76ers (13-10) look to rebound from a disappointing loss against the Suns as they welcome Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers (8-15) to Philadelphia on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers come into tonight's game losing three of their last five while the Lakers have lost five in a row. These teams met a short time ago on the national stage and they'll do that again on Thursday on TNT.

For the first time since the beginning of the 2015-16 season, the Sixers will not have Jahlil Okafor on their roster. Earlier in the day, the Sixers reached an agreement to send the former third overall pick to Brooklyn along with Nik Stauskas and a 2019 second-round pick. In exchange, Philadelphia received power forward Devin Booker. Although Okafor's situation was not handled ideally in Philadelphia, he'll have the opportunity to play regularly on a Nets team whose starting center is Tyler Zeller. 

Now to tonight's game, the Sixers and Lakers. The two teams met in mid-November, with the Sixers prevailing by a final score of 115-109. The matchup was highly-touted with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons getting to see Lonzo Ball for the first time, and well…even T.J. McConnell ended up outplaying Ball. Lonzo has a target on his back thanks to his father and the start of his NBA career has been pretty awful. The former UCLA product is averaging 8.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists, but is shooting a horrendous 31.3 percent from the floor and 25 percent from beyond the arc. His shooting-percentage has gone up a little over a point since his last game against the Sixers. Hard to say anyway expected this from a guy who shot over 55 percent overall in college and better than 41 percent from downtown. Kyle Kuzma has been the standout rookie for the Lakers, averaging 16.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, shooting a respectable 49.8 percent from the floor. Kuzma scored 24 points and grabbed seven boards against Philadelphia last month. Lonzo went 1-for-9 in the first meeting with the Sixers, finishing with two points, five boards and two assists.

On the Sixers side of things, Joel Embiid had a career-night against the Lakers in November. The 7-foot-2 native of Cameroon erupted for 46-points to go along with 15 rebounds, seven assists and seven blocks. He hit 14 of 20 from the floor and converted 16 of 19 from the free throw line. After shoot-around on Wednesday, he was asked if he thought he could replicate that performance.

“As long as they feed me, I have a pretty good chance…it was a pretty close game,” Embiid told reporters. “I scored the ball the way I did, but I guess we have to do a better job defensively. They got too many offensive rebounds and we have to do a better job of boxing out and limiting turnovers.”

Ben Simmons fell a rebound shy of a triple-double against the Lakers his first time out, scoring 18 points to go along with 10 assists and nine boards. 

It will be interesting to see how the Lakers plan to defend Embiid tonight, because not even double teams worked well the first time. Expect an even heavier amount of doubles on Thursday night and for Embiid to be more aggressive in the post after admitting he wasn't doing that against Phoenix on Monday. The Lakers are coming off of a 118-95 loss at the hands of the streaking Rockets. The teams were tied after a quarter, but like the Sixers against the Suns, the Rockets pulled away with a big second quarter en route to victory. 

On the injury front, T.J. McConnell has missed the last three with an AC shoulder sprain, but he'll play tonight. Saric suffered a corneal abrasion in practice on Wednesday in his left eye while also getting poked in his right eye and he's been ruled out.

Projected Lineups

Matchup Preview  |  December 7, 2017
Los Angeles Lakers
(8-15, 2-8 Away)
  Philadelphia 76ers
(13-10, 7-5 Home)
Stats Comparison
105.8 Points Per Game 108.2
109.3 PPG Allowed 108.1
.455 Field Goal % .455
.315 3-Point % .357
.710 Free Throw % .729
46.4 Rebounds 49.3
5.7 Blocks 4.8
8.2 Steals 8.4
17.1 Turnovers 16.8
Projected Starters
Lonzo Ball Point Guard Ben Simmons
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Shooting Guard Jerryd Bayless
Brandon Ingram Small Forward J.J. Redick
Larry Nance Power Forward Robert Covington
Brook Lopez Center Joel Embiid
Injury Report

Game Information

Tip-off: 8pm

Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA


Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

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