544 Philedelphia -7 vs LAL
Let me start off by saying this looks like a terrific spot for LA to get blown out against the Philadelphia 76ers. There are so many factors working against them. This is LA’s 5th game of a 6 game road trip, all which were against very tough playoff caliber teams (Warriors, Celtics, Clippers, Pacers, and now the 76ers who are probably the new favorite to win the East after acquiring Tobias Harris.) That’s 5 different flights, 5 new hotels rooms and 4 different time zones.
Much like a heavyweight fight, you will begin to wear down in the later rounds or end of game in this case. Athletes are creatures of habit and on long drawn out road trips there is little consistency which usually leads to having a negative effect on performance. The Lakers have also been battling some injuries most notably, James, who has recently returned from a hamstring injury but also Lonzo Ball sitting out recently from an ankle injury. Therefore, a lot of key players like Ingram and Kuzma have had to pick up the slack logging huge minutes, and fatigue will continue to play more of a role down the stretch in later parts of the game particularly. Not to mention they had to pull off quite an effort to upset Boston the previous game which definitely leaves teams more vulnerable to a let-down game in the following contest. The cause of this is typically from exasperating extra effort in the previous game and even celebrating the win (yes NBA players party too!)
Meanwhile the 76ers have been cozy playing home games, getting to sleep in their own beds for the past week and preparing to play their 3rd game in a 4 game home stand. Lakers had been looking very beatable without Lebron in the lineup, but since his return and stunning Boston at home I think that will play a huge reminder for Philly not to take them lightly. Also, I already believe it’s natural for teams to get up for a game against Lebron, but I think Philly might have a little more to prove that they are title contenders this year.
Don’t get me wrong Lebron is still the best player on the court, but 2-5 best players are all on the Sixers. This is still only Lebron’s 3rd game back within the last 4 games so he’s still not into 100% game shape yet. Finally, if this game does start looking grim for the Lakers there is a distinct possibility coach, Walton, decides to wave the white flag early to rest Lebron and the rest of the starting cast so they are more well equipped to beat a very subpar Atlanta Hawks team on Tuesday. Realistically the Lakers coaching staff is aware this is going to be a very challenging game to win and why risk compounding that by selling out and going into Atlanta all beat up and compounding that into another loss.