Philadelphia at L.A. Lakers
Time: 9:30 PM CT, TNT
Spread: PHI -6.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
LAL TEAM NOTES:
The Los Angeles Lakers are still without LeBron James, and it has won just five of its last ten, the team is now occupying the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference overall standings. The Lakers are 8-7 against the Eastern Conference. With James unavailable, doing all the little things becomes ever more important. Kuzma can be transcendental in his own right at times, but without James, the Lakers lack a star, a No. 1 option, and it is now relying on the power of youth and chemistry to do the job.
Kuzma, for his part, has been great. The 6’9” forward has averaged 19.5 points per game and 6.8 rebounds over his last 10 games, and his 41-point eruption in the 113-100 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Jan. 9 was impressive. Kuz shot 16 of 24 in the game while knocking down 5 of 10 from three. He is unarguably the Lakers best offensive player outside of James, and now is his time to shine. Getting the best of Paul George (who presumably will cover him in this game) would be one more notch to Kuzma’s belt, but the Lakers are double-digit underdogs against the defensive studded lineup of the Thunder.
PHI TEAM NOTES:
The Philadelphia 76ers have won six of its last 10 games. It is currently seeded No. 4 in the East, but it trails Conference-leading Milwaukee by just four games.
In the most recent loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Sixers fell 110-126 despite 22 points from J.J. Redick. Joel Embiid sat out, and Ben Simmons filled in with a starting lineup that featured Redick, Corey Brewer, T.J. McConnell, and Jonah Bolden.
Philadelphia shot just 41.9 recent from the floor in the loss to the Nuggets, and it was outrebounded by 10 boards. The Sixers desperately need Embiid, the true centerpiece of its team, but it also needs a healthy Jimmy Butler. Right now, it is simply trying to stay afloat with Simmons responsible for nearly everything with his rag-tag supporting cast. Butler is expected to return from his sprained wrist tonight.
The 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has bust written all over him and is not currently playing, and Jimmy Butler is a strong addition, but the Sixers have certainly missed the defensive presence Robert Covington gave them (he and Dario Saric were the two key players traded for Butler). The Sixers also are pretty heavily reliant on its top-end talent, and adding depth is not something that should be left out of consideration.
Perhaps, if the team can manage to swing it, a team would be willing to take on Fultz as a “reclamation” project while giving the Sixers some pieces it could use in its second unit. No matter what the case, it is entirely unclear how Fultz fits into any future plans and there are some certain holes on this roster that need addressing after giving up key pieces to acquire Butler this season.