We've spent all day talking about tonight's matchup with the Lakers. The Sixers are an underdog, in a big way. The Lakers are great. Blah, blah, blah. Well, I don't think an upset is out of the question, and I have a dirty little secret no one has been talking about. Check it out after the jump.
First, take a look at the stats. The Sixers grab a higher percentage of offensive rebounds, they get to the line more, and they cause more turnovers. The Lakers own every other category. On paper, they're actually about equal, defensively, it's on the offensive side that LA distances itself.
Now, for that dirty little secret. From the beginning of the season through February 7th, the Lakers averaged 7.1 threes made on 18.7 attempts per game (49 games). That's 38%. Since February 7th, they've averaged 5.9 made on 18.7 attempts. That's 31.7%. In other words, since trading Vladimir Radmanovic, the Lakers have been worse from distance than the Sixers. Shocking, right?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they should do something stupid like leave shooters open, I'm just saying they aren't exactly strong in the area of the Sixers biggest weakness. They'll probably beat the Sixers from three, and they have more weapons from out there, but they aren't one of the teams that's going to bury you with bombs, like the Magic.
Now, for the game. I'm really interested in seeing the initial matchup. The biggest question, obviously, is who will guard Kobe. Usually, Green starts on the opposing point with Miller on the shooting guard. I'm not sure if they'll put Miller on Kobe early, though. The last thing they want is Miller expending that kind of energy and potentially picking up early fouls. Iguodala is an option, but I have a feeling they'll go with Green, and maybe feature him on offense to make Kobe work a little on the other end. Look for Willie coming off downscreens for jumpers from the elbow, which seems to be the only shot he can hit these days.
If you want a key to the game, I'll say it's going to be the Sixers' ability to keep Odom off the boards. He's been a monster and Thad needs to work extra hard to get a body on him. The Sixers cannot afford to get dominated on the defensive glass tonight.
The tip is at 10:30, hope to see you guys for the in-game discussion.