The Sixers will bring their four-game road trip to an end tonight at 10:30 in LA. The defending champs are pretty much cruising to the number one seed out West, though they seem to be in a dogfight with Cleveland for home court advantage throughout. The Sixers are cruising as well, I'm just having a hard time figuring out what their destination is.
You knew I had to start out with this video, right?
The Lakers are back at full strength after going 4-1 over a five-game stretch without Kobe. They lost their last game to the Mavs, however, and they don't seem to be quite as strong this season as last.
Here's a look at the matchups (Willie Green and Jason Smith are out for tonight's game):
Lou Williams vs. Derek Fisher - Lou should really be able to take advantage of Fisher on the offensive end. Fisher's a wily veteran, but even in his prime I don't think he was quick enough to stick with Lou off the dribble. On the other end of the floor, Fisher is undoubtedly going to get a number of easy looks at threes, but he rarely penetrates. Put it this way, if LA decides to pick on this mismatch, consider it a win for the Sixers because Kobe, Pau and Bynum are losing touches.
Jrue vs. Kobe - Quite an assignment for a 19-year-old. Clearly a humongous advantage for the Lakers, but I'm still looking forward to seeing it.
Iguodala vs. Artest - Usually, you'd see Iguodala move over to guard Kobe, but I don't think that's an option with Artest at the three. Jrue would get pushed around by Artest.
Brand vs. Pau - Need to make Pau work on the defensive end, if you can. Advantage Lakers.
Dalembert vs. Bynum - The Lakers' young center is putting up decent numbers this season, and most importantly, he's been able to stay on the floor. I still shudder when I think about what he did to Sam a couple of years ago. With the Sixers short two bigs, it's imperative that Dalembert finds a way to stay on the floor tonight. The Lakers big lineup is very big and I really don't want to see Speights and Thad together at the four and five against that unit.
Bench - The Laker bench hasn't been great this season. Lamar Odom is awesome, Shannon Brown has been explosive, at times, Farmar is hit or miss. Jackson has only gone 8 deep recently, so the Sixers could run them a little bit, tire them out. Thad, Speights and Carney could actually take this matchup, but they're going to have to bring the energy on both ends of the floor.
Coach - Come on.
Key to The Game: Let's go with rebounding.
If ____________ the Sixers will win: I'm going to say more FGA for Artest than Pau.
This is your game thread. I'll be burning the midnight oil here with you, so join me if you're snowed in and feeling masochistic.