What You Already Know:
Kobe grew up in Philadelphia so coming home and playing in front of his hometown fans is something #24 always cherishes. Unfortunately, Philly fans have historically not shared in the love fest, often booing Kobe for large durations of games.
Despite being predicted by many to be one of the league’s worst teams, the Sixers have pleasantly surprised many, compiling a series of solid victories to bump their record to a better than expected 10-15. This is on the heels of their solid season-ending run to finish a respectable 35-47 despite Allen Iverson’s mid-season departure.
The Sixers are led by Andre Iguodala’s 18 points and six rebounds. Samuel Dalembert anchors Philadelphia on D, pulling down 10 rebounds and blocking 2.64 shots for a Sixers’ defense that holds opponents to 94 points per game, good enough for seventh in the league.
What You Might Not Know:
Everyone knows that Andre Iguodala leads the Sixer’s charge, but many people might be surprised to discover that the other Andre – Andre Miller – is Philadelphia’s second leading scorer at nearly 16 points per game. Whether or not this speaks to a breakout season or simply the Sixers’ lack of offensive firepower is up for debate though. Odds are on the latter as Miller’s scoring is likely just a band-aid for a Philly offense that is near the bottom of the league in points per game with just over 93.
The Sixers are also aided by guard Willie Green’s 13 points. The Detroit Mercy alum has been one of the biggest bright spots for the Sixers this season, building on his 11 point average from last year.
The Lakers lost badly in their last meeting with Philadelphia, falling 108-92 at the Sixers’ home. The two Andres dominated the Lakers, with Kobe’s good friend Iguodala surpassing the 30-point plateau and Miller chipping in 23. Not to make excuses for L.A.’s embarrassing effort, but the team was without Odom, Walton, Farmar, Mihm, Turiaf and Radmanovic.
What You Need To Know:
Since trading Allen Iverson to Denver midway through last season, Philadelphia has obviously been lacking in the star power department. However, that void has led to a balanced Sixers’ attack that has resulted in six players who are averaging at least 10 points. As the Sixers have shown in their quality December wins over the Rockets and Cavaliers, they are still a force to be reckoned with even without a name player.
The Lakers will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back when they face the Sixers – one of L.A.’s biggest problem spots over the past few seasons. The Lakers lost the second game of their last back-to-backer against the Warriors last Friday.
One of the critical match-ups against the Sixers will be at center where Andrew Bynum will face off against Dalembert, one of the few players in the league that can match his size and length. The Lakers have relied on Bynum’s game in winning six of their last seven games heading into last night’s showdown with Cleveland. It should be a good test for #17.