With the Los Angeles Lakers slipping into double digits before late in the first quarter on Wednesday, LeBron James put his head down and left the cup, recovering a smidge of momentum in the quarter-break.
Waiting him at the rim was Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, who bowed away in what seemed to be an easy 2 for James, sparking a transition opportunity that former Lakers guard Danny Greene had in the key to put Phil Completed with 3 from the top. Above 16.
This was the kind of sequence that could make viewers believe that the Sixers are legitimate contenders this season.
Embiid had a 7-foot, 280-pound MVP candidate anchoring Philadelphia’s top-five defense and compensating for one of the greatest finishers in James’ game history – advancing his own MVP campaign – Fast break 3 from a three-time champion. With the championship credentials of their own Doc Rivers as the 76ers’ new coach, everyone opted out of the action.
This is not to say that the rest of the night was a staple for the Sixers. LA took an 11.2-second lead in the fourth quarter with a 13.2-run delay and left a beautiful dish to cut Anthony Davis out of James, and it looked as if the Lakers could make their 10–0 perfect start to the season He is going. Philly responded, however, with Tobias Harris connecting on a pull-up jump shot over Alex Caruso with three seconds left to win, 107-106.
“They know what they’re looking for,” Lakers big man Mark Gasol told reporters on videoconferencing after the game, praising the Sixers direction. “I think all the players accepted their roles and want to excel in them. They know what they want to live offensively and whether they want to live defensively.”
Gasol, who came into the competition with a reputation as an embittered stopper – the Sixers’ big man was just 3-5 in his career against Gasol before Wednesday, averaging 10.6 points on 30% shooting in those games – Cain this time. Did not interrupt “The Process”.
Embiid finished with 28 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Meanwhile, Gasol was made ineffective, dropping 15 of those points while guarding Embiid as he was near 5-for-9 from the field and 4-for-5 from the foul line, when the Lakers Was tasked with the new acquisition center. To protect him
“They played through him, and they played through him a lot, and they kept feeding him,” Gasol said. “It’s not like they’re going away and going to feed someone else. They know what they’re going to play through and how they’re going to play, and they’re comfortable with it.
“So, we’ll see it, and we’ll get better.”
A win in January does not shift the balance of power for the entire league. The Sixers will still have to prove better with the Brooklyn Nets ‘new big three, the Boston Celtics’ cohesive core and the Milwaukee Bucks with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokenmpo – just out of the Eastern Conference.
But the rematch of the 2001 NBA Finals between LA and Philadelphia is certainly likely to occur after 20 years.
Wednesday’s win gave the Sixers a 10-1 mark at home this season – they are now 41-5 at the Wells Fargo Center since the start of last season – and improved their overall record to 13-6. East Side. He has the best basketball-playing Embiid of his career. He has Ben Simmons, a rugged defender with size to trouble James. Green, Harris and Seth Curry – who did not even play on Wednesday – are consistently hitting from outside.
A lot needs to happen between now and then, but it is not far-fetched.
“I think this is a really good team that they put together,” James said of the 76ers. Give a lot of credit [general manager] The Elton brand and the things they are doing here. Apparently, Doc has always won too much wherever he has been. We will see as the season goes on. A lot of teams playing championship basketball in the Eastern Conference are going down the stretch. I know they believe they are one of those teams. “
The Lakers, being defending champs, are already a proven contender. However, last year’s team proved that it could handle Jusuf Nurkic, Nikola Jokic and Bum Adebayo en route to the title.
In the offers the Lakers changed – they traded Jeff McGee to the Cleveland Cavaliers and let Dwight Howard as Embiid’s backup, replacing Gasol and Montrell Hurl.
“We’re different,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of the change at center. “And different does not mean better or worse. I would like to think that we are trying to be a better basketball team this year, even when we won the championship last year.”
Whether these Lakers are better than 2019-20, the Lakers remain to be seen. Despite Wednesday’s result, they already believe they are better than the 2020-21 Sixers.
“I think our lineup and our group are very capable of defeating this team in a seven-match series,” Davis said.