Coming into the NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers was a popular pick for the NBA Finals matchup.
At this point, that matchup looks doubtful. The 46-13 Lakers look very much like a top title contender, but the 37-24 Sixers have been up and down and are now dealing with injuries to All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as well as starter Josh Richardson. Philadelphia has a 28-2 record at home but it just 9-22 in games on the road.
Today the two squads will meet at Staples Center as the Lakers host the Sixers (10pm ET Tuesday on TNT)
With Embiid, Simmons and Richardson out for the Sixers, the Lakers are a massive favorite with the USA betting sites in this game. That remains the case regardless of the injury status of Lakers superstar big man Anthony Davis, who is questionable with a knee problem.
How will this game go, though? This NBA matchup preview will pinpoint the key areas of battle and give our Philadelphia 76ers vs LA Lakers predictions in terms of the wagering opportunities.
Will Shake Milton’s Confidence Continue Against Another Tough Opponent?
One clear beneficiary of the Sixers’ two key injuries is Milton. The 76ers’ 23-year-old guard is finally getting his first chance at heavy starters’ minutes and a high-usage role, and he is definitely taken advantage.
In Milton’s last three games, he has averaged 26 points, 4.7 assists and just 1 turnover per game on a ridiculous true-shooting percentage of 88.5. He has made 16 out of his 20 three-pointers in that span. His best game came on Sunday in a 136-130 road loss against the Los Angeles Clippers. In that contest, he scored a career-high 39 points.
The fact that Milton had such a great performance on the road against an elite team says a lot about his swagger and talent. Now, he will need to repeat the performance against a team that can sometimes struggle defensively against scoring guards.
If Milton puts forth another spectacular performance, an upset win is definitely in the realm of possibility.
Will LeBron James’ Threes Fall For Him?
At the age of 35 years old, James prefers not to bang bodies near the basket as much as he used to do. His free-throw attempts per game are a career-low 5.5 and his 6.3 three-point attempts per game are a career high.
James’ jumper is more consistent than it was earlier in his career, but he still goes ice-cold on occasion. In the Lakers’ 21 home wins in which he has participated, LeBron has made 45 percent of his three balls. In the six home losses, his three-point percentage drops to just 18.2.
It is clear that the Lakers thrive on LeBron being able to show off his deep shooting range. In this specific matchup without Ben Simmons playing for the 76ers, the Sixers don’t have many good options for guarding James. If LeBron’s shot is falling, he is going to be even more unguardable than normal for the 76ers’ forwards.
Will Lakers’ Bigs Make a Point of Hitting the Glass Hard?
While the status of Anthony Davis is still up in the air, the Lakers still have a major advantage on the interior in this game. Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee are two long, athletic bigs who are tough to deal with inside. LeBron James is also a big, athletic forward who can bully others underneath the basket.
Without Embiid and Simmons, the Sixers do not have good rebounding personnel. The Sixers will likely go with a frontcourt of Al Horford, Tobias Harris and Glenn Robinson. All three guys average fewer than eight rebounds per 36 minutes. Kyle O’Quinn is a strong rebounder off the bench, but he probably won’t play too big of a role.
Los Angeles needs to make a point of flexing its muscles on the glass to ensure that it has lots of second shot opportunities and holds the Sixers to just one shot each time down. The Lakers can’t get lazy and squander one of their biggest advantages in this matchup.
Our Preview’s Philadelphia 76ers vs Los Angeles Lakers Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
The Lakers should win this game going away. The fact that the Sixers have so many injuries and play so poorly on the road almost guarantees a win. Only a massive Shake Milton game combined with a low-energy performance from the Lakers could swing the outcome the other way.
Don’t be surprised if the 76ers’ young players, who don’t normally play, give very good effort in this contest. I just don’t think it will be enough to prevent a Lakers win by more than 20 points. These are our Philadelphia 76ers vs Los Angeles Lakers predictions:
- Los Angeles is favored by the large margin of 13.5 points in this game and most of the sportsbooks have yet to publish their lines. You should bet on the Lakers -13.5pts @ -110 with Bovada.
- The Sixers completely lose their defensive identity without Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson. Los Angeles should score easily early on and prompt the Sixers to pick up the pace as they try to catch up. When the bookies get their act together, think about going over on the total points.