The Philadelphia 76ers were among the teams in the Eastern Conference who padded their roster at the trade deadline in preparation for a playoff run.
The Lakers experienced their depth firsthand on Sunday afternoon.
Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s 143-120 loss to the 76ers.
1. Center Joel Embiid caused a lot of problems for the Lakers in part because there were times when they didn’t know whether they should leave the shooters. On one play, Embiid dribbled the length of the court without facing any defensive pressure and scored. The Lakers want to be a team that works inside-out, but they aren’t nearly as effective with it as the 76ers were Sunday. Philadelphia had 70 points in the paint, and four of the five players in their loaded starting lineup made better than 60% of their field goals.
2. Lakers coach Luke Walton went with Reggie Bullock in the starting lineup, and used Brandon Ingram as their starting point guard. The goal was to try and speed up Bullock’s acclimation process rather than ease him into the lineup, and also to try to counteract Philadelphia’s size. Bullock said he liked that method and he did think it would help him in the long run. In his debut, he made only one of five shots he took but had three assists, two blocks, a steal and a rebound.
3. LeBron James has seen his teams change dramatically at the trade deadline before. Last season the Cavaliers traded six players at the deadline, completely remaking their roster in an effort to put together one more championship run for James. He said this year’s situation is different because of all the injuries the team has experienced. “This season is going to be totally different from the sense of how fast or how quickly we can try to fast-track this, so we can get back to playing the type of basketball we’re playing before my injury,” James said. “So, like I said, we have a huge piece still not with us and Lonzo, that’s a huge piece of our team.”
4. Ball’s absence has weighed heavily on the Lakers especially lately. They are realizing more and more how much they miss his defensive contributions. Walton said the Lakers need to find their passion for defense again, but when we asked Kyle Kuzma how the defense can be helped, he first pointed toward Ball’s absence.