Lakers excited for challenge of facing draft lottery neighbor 76ers
EL SEGUNDO — When the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers square off Wednesday night at Staples Center, the game will feature two teams that haven’t seen the playoffs in a while and have spent recent years at or near the bottom of their respective Western and Eastern conference standings.
The 76ers (7-6) last made the postseason in the strike-shortened 2011-12 campaign, the Lakers in 2012-13. Both franchises appear to be on the rise, and have acquired some promising young talent, so Lakers coach Luke Walton and his players are looking forward to the matchup.
“Yeah, I think it’ll be exciting,” said Walton, whose team is 6-8. “There’s a lot of good teams out there, so it’s always exciting to get out there and play. But with young, high draft picks and teams going at each other, I think that’s always a little extra for them.”
Philadelphia is built around second-year center Joel Embiid and 6-foot-10 rookie point guard Ben Simmons. Embiid missed the 2014-15 and ’15-’16 seasons because of a foot injury, then played in only 31 games last season because of a knee injury. Now healthy, he’s averaging 20.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 blocked shots this season.
Embiid went for 32 points and 16 rebounds in a 109-105 victory over the host Clippers on Monday.
“I saw some highlights on SportsCenter when I got home,” Walton said of Embiid. “He’s a pretty good basketball player. But the way Simmons is playing right now, J.J. (Redick) shooting the ball, they’re doing some pretty good things over there. … So it’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
Redick is the 76ers’ fourth-leading scorer at 15.1 points per game, forward Robert Covington is at 16.8 and Simmons, who missed the 2016-17 season recovering from foot surgery, is averaging 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.5 […]