For the first play of games for the TNT double-header, there are Too many interesting subplots to explore as a far and advantages to find as a bettor.
The Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference. They proved that when they battled in a showdown of Atlantic Division rivals on Friday night.
Both teams were without their third leading scorer for their respective team as the Celtics played without Kyrie Irving,
who is nursing a knee injury, and the Sixers played without JJ Redick,
who was out with back spasms. Both sides are looking to prove themselves once again and demonstrate
why they are considered top teams in the league at this moment.
Because both sides were missing key players, there was a lot of intensity from both teams. The Lakers, who have been criticize for underperforming against weaker opponents, in particular, were impressive.
Kyrie Irving returns to Celtics lineup
Irving missed the Celtics’ last three games with a knee injury, but he returned to the lineup against the Lakers. He finished with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting, five assists, two steals and two turnovers in just 26 minutes. Irving’s return was good timing for the Celtics, who are in the process of getting healthy.
Terry Rozier knee and Jayson Tatum shoulder are expected to return soon,
and Marcus Morris (knee) could be back next week.
The Celtics have been great without Irving,
but it’s good to know that he’s back in the lineup
and ready to finally get going for the rest of the regular season.
The Celtics are currently the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference,
but they’re just a game ahead of the Sixers.
Lakers show resilience in loss to 76ers
The Lakers showed some resilience in this one, especially without the services of their third leading scorer.
They playing with a gritty effort but were ultimately outplayed by the Sixers.
The Lakers got off to a quick start by taking a 19-point lead in the first quarter and held a lead throughout most of the game.
The Sixers eventually closed the gap to four points but could never retake the lead as the Lakers held on for the rest of the game.
The Lakers have been playing with a chip on their shoulders ever since their team dinner where they reportedly went through a “fight” where each of the players had to say something about the team. They have won five of six games since and look like the team many expected them to be at the start of the season.
Kyle Kuzma continues to impress
Kuzma had another strong performance against the 76ers, finishing with a team-high 30 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
He has now led the team in scoring in three straight games and in five of their last six.
Kuzma is now averaging 18.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game for the season and is proving to be a worthy first round pick for the Lakers.
He has been excellent as of late, averaging 25.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game over his last five games.
Kuzma has looked comfortable in his role as a starter and has been playing like a man possessed with how efficient he has been from the field.
Brandon Ingram is a problem for everyone
Ingram has been the Lakers’ most consistent player so far this season and he continued that trend against the Sixers.
He finished with 22 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in the loss.
He has been the Lakers’ leading scorer over the last three games and has played like a star while doing so.
During that span, Ingram has averaged 25 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals per game while shooting 52 percent from the field and 82.5 percent from the free throw line.
For the season, he is now averaging 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and an impressive 36.3 percent from three.
Sixers have no problem with Markelle Fultz
Fultz has been a bit of a mystery this season after being out with a mysterious shoulder injury and disappearing from the team for a bit.
He has since returned and has looked solid in his last few games but struggled mightily against the Lakers.
Fultz finished with just one point, two assists and four turnovers in 19 minutes.
Although the Lakers’ defense didn’t force him to take many shots, he likely wasn’t ready for a full workload yet.
It’s unclear how Fultz will perform at this point, but he is expected to be back in the starting lineup against the Magic on Sunday.
The Lakers and the Sixers are two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and these two teams once again proved that.
Irving and Simmons were out for their respective teams but the Lakers still proved that they have the ability to play without a key player while the Sixers proved they can still win games despite a less than full roster.
This game proved that these two teams can beat the best teams in the league, even without key players.. The Lakers and the Sixers will face off once again in a week when they square off in Boston on January 31.