The struggling LA Lakers will host the Philadelphia 76ers at the Staples Center on March 25th. The matchup will pair the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference against the reigning NBA champions.
The LA Lakers have a 28-16 record right now and are tied with the LA Clippers for the third spot in the West. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers are 31-13 in the 2020-21 NBA season and are just one game behind the Utah Jazz for the top record in the entire league.
The LA Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers will play for the second and final time in the NBA regular season on Thursday.
The 76ers won the previous matchup, with a game-winning shot from Tobias Harris giving Doc Rivers' team a one-point victory.
Philadelphia 76ers vs LA Lakers prediction
Despite missing Joel Embiid for the last six games, the Philadelphia 76ers are 5-1 and have maintained their solid defensive level throughout those matches. Their only loss in that span came against the red-hot Milwaukee Bucks on March 17th in overtime.
In the five wins, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks (twice), Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. The 76ers are on a six-game road trip and have already won the first two of those road games.
The LA Lakers, on the other hand, have not been able to overcome the absence of their two best players and have three consecutive losses. It will be difficult for them to prevent the Philadelphia 76ers from walking over them, as the team is simply shorthanded and struggling.
The LA Lakers are coming off consecutive double-digit losses against the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans, and they allowed 111 and 128 points, respectively.
If Frank Vogel's team continues down this path without their two superstars, teams on the play-in positions could threaten their spot in the Top 6 of the Western Conference (the LA Lakers are just four games ahead of the seventh-placed San Antonio Spurs).
Philadelphia 76ers vs LA Lakers combined starting 5
Point Guard - Ben Simmons | Shooting Guard - Dennis Schroder | Small Forward - Kyle Kuzma | Power Forward - Tobias Harris | Center - Montrezl Harrell.
Ben Simmons has been one of the top performers for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2020-21 NBA season, both on defense and offense. He is averaging 16 points, eight rebounds and 7.6 assists per game while shooting 56% from the field. Moreover, he ranks 10th in the NBA in Defensive Rating.
Dennis Schroder has been a good addition to the LA Lakers' backcourt. When the squad's been fully healthy, he created plays for his teammates and allowed LeBron James to rest off the ball. The German guard has put up 15 points and 4.7 assists in his first season with the LA Lakers and is the third-best scorer in the team.
Kyle Kuzma is the player who should step up in the absence of LeBron and AD. He started for the LA Lakers in the last two games and needs to do a better job of scoring. Kuzma averaged just 14.5 points in the last two games and made 37% of his shots.
Tobias Harris has undoubtedly been the Philadelphia 76ers' third-best player in the 2020-21 NBA season, and his performances in the current campaign surely deserved All-Star recognition.
The 28-year-old is averaging 20.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game in the current campaign and is tremendously close to having a 50/40/90 season. The forward is posting 51/41/89 shooting splits for the Philadelphia 76ers so far.
The LA Lakers' frontcourt has been a topic of discussion and is considered as the team's weakest position by many. However, Montrezl Harrell has been a bright spot coming off the bench.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year award winner is putting up 14.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in his first season for the LA Lakers. He surely has another good case to contend for this year's Sixth Man of the Year award. Harrell has also been available for coach Vogel in every game of the season so far.