Extra Pass: Lakers-Sixers, Warriors-Wolves doubleheader on Friday

Published January 27, 2022, 4:00 PMMiguel Flores

Watch the Lakers-Sixers game at 8:30 AM on One Sports and the Warriors-Wolves game at 11:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines via Smart’s GigaPlay app.

The bad news is there’s only two NBA games tomorrow. The good news is they’re both great, almost must-watch games. The better news is you can watch these games on TV.

The Los Angeles Lakers visiting the Philadelphia 76ers will be live on One Sports at 8:30 AM. The Golden State Warriors hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves then goes live at 11:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines.

Sure, you can always get League Pass so you can dual screen these games on your phone and TV. It's a pretty good double-header to drop a subscription on.

Get LeBron and Embiid some help

LeBron James and Joel Embiid are tired.

James is 37 years old, an age where most NBA superstars either turn into role players or are out of the league entirely. LeBron has been defying Father Time this season, almost single-handedly keeping the Lakers relevant through a time of injuries and hushed discord around the team.

In Year 19, LeBron is averaging 29.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 6.3 assists with a 52/35/75 shooting split. He’s played center, forward, guard, coach, and mediator for Los Angeles. In the past, LeBron dropping numbers like these has been enough to carry teams to a stable playoff seed. The Lakers, though, are only eighth in the West with a 24-24 record. If they called this a Kobe tribute, Kobe would have appreciated a better record like maybe 24-8.

Embiid, on the other hand, is not old. In fact, he’s in the prime of his career. His career was filled with disappointment early, entering the league missing his first two seasons due to varying lower limb injuries – never an encouraging development for seven-footers.

Now, at 27 years old, Embiid has panned out beyond anyone’s expectations. He isn’t literally doing things Shaquille O’Neal or Dirk Nowitzki did before, but putting up 29.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists a game is special all on its own. In January, he has dropped at least 30 points in 11 of Philly’s 12 games. In the one game he didn’t cross the 30-point mark, Embiid had 25-13-6 in a blowout win over Boston.

Unlike the Lakers, the Sixers have capitalized on their star’s MVP season, going 28-19, just 2.5 games behind first place in the crowded Eastern Conference. Still, it’s worrying that it takes Embiid playing 34 minutes a game to get the Sixers here. Ideally, Embiid would be resting on some nights with a more manageable minutes plan to protect his health, but the Sixers can't afford that.

For LeBron, the Lakers have a good shot at getting better as the lineup gets healthy. Anthony Davis just got back from a knee injury and Russell Westbrook has been trying his best to not be Russell Westbrook. If the Lakers do make it to the playoffs, they’ll be one of the more dangerous lower seeds.

For Embiid, there isn’t a clear answer for what comes next for Philadelphia. There still is no resolution in sight for the Ben Simmons fiasco, a massive shame since Simmons or a star in place of him could have greatly helped the Sixers.

Tomorrow’s game between these embattled superstars should be massive. Who can carry their team to a win?

The one where KAT faces the Splash Bros

The Western Conference this season has been so top- and Lakers-heavy that there’s been barely any time to pay attention to some of the more interesting teams cropping up at the bottom of the playoff ladder.

Of those teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been the biggest delight. At 24-23, the Wolves have been mostly inconsistent this season, but their ups have been so fun that their usual downs have become tolerable.

The biggest development for Minnesota has been the improvement of Anthony Edwards. Last season started with Edwards playing more like a running back than a shooting guard. He finished his rookie year with a bang and has mostly carried over the flashes of brilliance to this season. Edwards has upped his points production from 19 to 22 per game while also increasing his efficiency from a paltry 40 percent field goal percentage to a respectable 44.

The true driving force behind everything Minnesota has done is Karl-Anthony Towns. Sure, the improvement of guys like Jared Vanderbilt, Jaden McDaniels, and D’Angelo Russell have opened doors for Minnesota on both ends. But there wouldn’t be any opportunities for other Wolves without Towns’ contributions on both ends.

Towns is the quintessential modern big man – scoring 24.1 points per game with a colorful shot chart while still providing what is expected of a force in the paint with 10.3 boards, 1.1 steals, and 1.3 blocks.

Towns should be an All-Star and we should see him dominate a thinned out Golden State frontcourt. The Warriors have been up-and-down with Draymond Green missing the last two weeks due to a calf injury. There has been no indication that Green will be available tomorrow, so expect Towns to take any Golden State attempt at a small lineup to task.

The Warriors have been on edge lately. They’re still second in the West at 35-13 with a three-game win streak heading into tomorrow. Still, re-integrating Klay Thompson has been more of a challenge than previously foreseen. 

But that’s the fun in the Warriors: with Klay back, we now have him and Steph Curry as ticking time bombs for a massive game. Pat Beverly is a good player, but he can’t trick us into believing he can stop either Splash Bro. Not anymore.