If the Sixers win either of their next two games, this season's Ice Capades trip can be classified as nothing short of a rousing success. Tonight, the calendar will flip some time in the third quarter (on the East coast), and if the Sixers can pull off a minor miracle in Los Angeles, they'll have every right to celebrate.
Check out the game capsule from the first Sixers/Lakers game of the season.
Since that first game against the Lakers, they've shuffled their starting lineup. Lamar Odom has gone back to his sixth-man role and Andrew Bynum is starting in the middle. This was the lineup they used pretty much all of last season (when Bynum wasn't injured), and I'm not sure the change means a whole lot. Odom still played 42 minutes in their last game. The added size will probably cause some problems for the Sixers, but Odom's size and versatility was what really killed them in Philly a couple weeks ago. He's too strong for Thad and too quick for Brand.
I haven't heard anything about Andre Iguodala's status, but I do think it's crucial that he's back at somewhere near full strength if the team is going to have any chance in this game. Iguodala held Kobe to 9 points in their first meeting, and you'd have to go back three years to find a good Kobe performance against the Sixers. If Iguodala is in the lineup, he'll be able to minimize the damage Kobe does, which only leaves three defensive matchup problems on the floor.
A big reason the Sixers were able to hang with the Lakers in their first meeting was Spencer Hawes. Hawes has had some of the best games of his career against LA and he's going to have to come up big again this time. He's coming off a quietly solid game against Phoenix, so cross your fingers on that one.
On offense, there's no reason Jrue shouldn't extend his scoring streak to four games. Derek Fisher can't stick with him. My big hope is that Jrue won't fall in love with the long two. He was unbelievably hot from 16-23 feet in their last game, but I don't like the team's odds if he's taking 10 shots from that range.
And Evan Turner. If he can be the scorer we saw against Phoenix, he's going to cause some matchup problems for the Lakers' second unit. If he crawls back inside his shell, he's not going to be of much use.
Prediction: PHI 93, LAL 89. A New Year's Miracle!
The tip is at 10:30pm. Game thread will be up at 9pm and I'll be here throughout.