Part of the season preview series has an examination of the Sixers vs each of the divisions in the league. Today, we’ll be looking at the Pacific division which contains the Lakers, Clippers, Suns, Warriors, and Kings. We’ll keep things brief. When it’s game time, we’ll look at the match-ups in greater detail.
One of the teams in the 4 team trade involving Dwight Howard, the Lakers are now slated as being a contender. Alongside getting Howard, they got Steve Nash, who is still a top PG in the league. The Lakers are one of those very few teams that can match-up the Sixers number one option, Andrew Bynum. Also, the Lakers have Kobe Bryant, who is pretty good.
If the Sixers want to beat the Lakers (last I checked, they did) then they’ll have to win the rebounding battle for sure. Having someone guarding both Howard and Pau Gasol is once again the game plan for the Sixers’ defense. The absence of Andre Iguodala will be felt if Kobe is still Kobe. We can only hope Evan Turner and possibly Jason Richardson is up to the challenge.
The Lakers improved in another area that really showed its ugly side last season: Bench players. Players like Steve Blake, Antawn Jamison, and Jordan Hill are going to be key off the bench for the Lakers to compete for the title. And I think they are up to the challenge. The Sixers’ bench meanwhile is probably weaker than it used to be but I would expect it to still be one of the best.
Overall, the Lakers are the better team. I do expect that the teams split wins in their meetings this season.
When it comes to red, white, and blue teams, the Clippers are able to contend with the Sixers. But, unlike last season, the Sixers are the better team. The Sixers will have their hands tied with Chris Paul. Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill were good additions that they sorely needed. They have a young and athletic front court of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. While they may not be the best team in town, they are far away from the laughingstock team we knew them to be (that’s for the Bobcats now).
Out of the two meetings this season, I actually think the Sixers can win them both, but I’ll go for a split anyway. The number one advantage for the Sixers continues to be Bynum. Paul is a smaller PG. Perhaps Jrue can use his size to advantage, at least offensively.
Sixers shouldn’t have much problems with the Suns. With Steve Nash gone, the team is basically in rebuilding mode whether they want to accept it or not. They have a decent team however and I don’t think they’ll be a terrible team. I don’t see them in the playoffs though. They are a starless team but they have good players. Marcin Gortat, Micheal Beasley, Louis Scola and Shannon Brown are a few. And really, this is a core to look at but they still need the star power.
Sixers’ advantage once again is Bynum. The Suns still have the tools to be a fast pace team so Sixers will need to watch out for that. It’ll be important to slow the Suns down. I would expect a lot of shooting as both teams have quite a few 3 point shooters so the Sixers need to pay attention to their perimeter defense. And with Iguodala gone, that defense becomes weaker although they shouldn’t have serious problems sticking anybody on the Suns.
All in all the Sixers are the better team and in their two meetings this season, I would expect two Sixers wins. Do I expect blowouts? Maybe one. But I feel like the Suns are a team you just can’t sleep on (you can’t sleep on any team really).
After the Warriors beat the #1 seed Mavericks about 5 years ago, things haven’t been so great for the Warriors. But, they have a roster this year that appears to be ready to make a playoff push. A team led by Andre Bogut, Stephon Curry, and David Lee is capable of making the playoffs in a much weaker West than the last time this team made the playoffs. Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson are nice pickups from draft night too.
The Warriors are similar to the Suns in that they are a fast pace team that has shooters. Bogut presents a problem for Bynum in the battle for the best Andrew but Bynum is better. The biggest concern looking at the Warriors is health. Can Curry’s ankle hold up? Bogut hasn’t been the same since his nasty after dunk landing that took him out of the season while he was with the Bucks a few years ago. But, if this team can stay healthy, playoffs are not out of the question.
Warriors are probably the 3rd best team in this Pacific Division. A big strength I see on this team is their rebounding. Between Bogut, Lee, and Carl Landry, the Warriors shouldn’t have too much trouble rebounding the ball. So Sixers will need to be ready to attack the boards.
Another thing is defense. For years the Warriors have been known to score. And that was about it. But coach Mark Jackson has really put effort into making this team better defensively and they do have a couple of players to make that transition. But, last season they didn’t make a strong mark defensively. I expect this team to be average at best defensively.
Other than that, the Sixers have the clear advantage. I mean, they have the advantage defensively too but their offense will need work incorporating Bynum into the mix. And the Warriors do have a bit of size to put up vs Bynum. But again Bynum is a key advantage. Also, I think players like Nick Young and Dorell Wright will have chances to hit open 3 balls as the perimeter defense of the Warriors don’t feature a well known stopper. But just as vs the Suns the Warriors will be able to hit their fair share of 3 pointers.
The Kings are an interesting team with quite a few problems. I’m not going to address the off the court stuff though. We’re keeping it on the court. They have many young pieces that show promise but for some reason things are not gelling.
Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, and Aaron Brooks appear to be the top guys. Chuck Hayes, Jason Thompson, and Jimmer Fredette are pieces to look at too. In the end, there are no real strengths of the team. They are not the worst team in the league though. Basically, I think they will improve but will still be in the lottery.
Any big advantages over the Sixers? I don’t see anything that would make the Sixers lose to this team. As usual, you can never sleep on an NBA team. If the Sixers do their job, they shouldn’t have a problem beating the Kings. I seriously do believe the Kings are on the verge of becoming a powerhouse in the West if they can just get the team together. Does that mean trade Evans? I don’t know. Some say he’s not performing well enough. I’d be willing to wait him out.
Can they keep Cousins under control? It’s proven that Cousins is a force to be reckoned with when he’s playing the right way. That will help the team dramatically if he can keep his cool. Other than that, we just have to wait for these young guys to mature their game and then we’ll see how it goes. Who knows? This could be their breakout year.