Mon. Feb 24th, 2020

PHILADELPHIA, PA — A tough stretch is approaching for the Philadelphia 76ers. It all begins on Saturday night as the Sixers host a Western Conference powerhouse in the Los Angeles Lakers. This isn’t your 2018 LeBron James-led Lakers. Last season, the Sixers had no issues against “The King” and his teammates.

This season, the story could be much different. With tons of new additions, including the superstar big that is Anthony Davis, the Lakers are a completely different team. With a record of 36-9, Los Angeles is over four games ahead, ranking first place in the West.

Meanwhile, the Sixers’ goal of securing first in the Eastern Conference is long gone. As a matter of fact, they aren’t even sniffing second place just yet. Ranked as the sixth seed in the East, the 76ers are looking to keep themselves relevant in the conference.

Unfortunately, right now they are short-handed. With Joel Embiid recovering from surgery, and Josh Richardson dealing with hamstring issues, the 76ers are down two starters. On Saturday night against the Lakers, they won’t have either player available.

So how in the world can the Sixers slow down LA? Well, for starters, it will be up to the max players to perform to their maximum potential. This year, Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons have been good. Against the Lakers, though, good isn’t good enough.

Harris will need to be on his best shooting game, and Simmons will have to remain aggressive on the offensive side of the ball.

All last week, Simmons was turning up his intensity and scoring at will, which earned him the right to be called the Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Against Toronto, though, they figured out how to slow him down a bit. 

That can’t happen against LA. If Simmons is on his best game against the Lakers at home, then there’s a good chance his teammates will feed off of his energy. After the 76ers’ last win against Brooklyn, players such as Matisse Thybulle and Al Horford credited Simmons for setting the tone for everybody, helping them cause an impact on the game.

Game Time: Saturday, January 25th, 2020, 8:30 p.m. ET.

Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

TV: ABC, NBC Sports Philadelphia

Stream: NBA League Pass, NBCSP, ABC Go

Odds: 76ers are underdogs at +4.5 via The Action Network

The good news is Philly remains one of the best teams when playing at home. With 20 wins and only two losses, the Sixers are undoubtedly a different team while playing in South Philly on both sides of the ball.

However, missing Joel Embiid, somebody who has proven to be an issue for Anthony Davis before does hurt the Sixers’ chances on Saturday. It seems unlikely the Sixers pull this one off at home with two starters missing, but the key thing to remember is Philly can shock anybody at home. The 76ers cannot be counted out for this one.