Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee Bucks Preview
Now this is the one we’ve all been waiting for. Tonight on TNT, the two best teams in the NBA square off as the Los Angeles Lakers travel to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in a made for TV interconference matchup that could be an NBA Finals preview.
The Lakers and Bucks have been on a collision course since they both separated themselves from the pack early on and went on lengthy win streaks. They are both entering tonight’s game on streak-ending losses. They are both 9-1 in their last 10 games. Milwaukee is 24-4 and first in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks are 13-2 at home in the Fiserv Forum.
The Lakers are also 24-4 with a 3.5-game lead in the Western Conference. Just as the Bucks have been excellent at home, the Lakers have been solid on the road with a 14-2 record. For even more detail on the game, read Agustin Ibanez-Baldor’s piece on the game.
Time: 8 PM ET
Arena: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Lakers: Anthony Davis (Q), Kyle Kuzma, DeMarcus Cousins (O)
Bucks: Eric Bledsoe, Dragan Bender (O)
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup
The Los Angeles Lakers had a seven-game winning streak that came to a skid on Tuesday night in a close 105-102 loss to the Indiana Pacers on the road.
“There’s no need to hang our heads,” Lakers reserve big man Dwight Howard said after scoring 20 points. “There’s no need to complain. We got to get ready for Milwaukee. That’s the only thing we can do.”
Howard was one of six Lakers players to score in double figures. LeBron James had a near triple-double with 20 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists. Avery Bradley and Alex Caruso had 13 and 11 points apiece and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and JaVale McGee had 10.
The loss of Anthony Davis was a noticeable one. Jared Dudley started in his place, finishing with three points in 15 minutes. While Howard filled in admirable off the bench, the Lakers struggled to defend Domantas Sabonis, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineup
The Milwaukee Bucks looked to be unbeatable, stringing together 18 straight wins before losing to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night 120-116.
“My dad and my brother always say this: ‘To excel, to be better, you’ve got to face adversity,'” Antetokounmpo said. “It starts from the team leader to the last player. We got to see what we did wrong. I’ve got to step it up defensively, play better defense — way, way better defense — to help my team. It’s good. At the end of the day it’s good. You get better.”
The Mavericks weren’t expected to give the Bucks the issues they did without Luka Doncic, but Kristaps Porzingis had 26 points and 12 rebounds to pace Dallas. They also couldn’t wrap up Seth Curry, who had one of his best games of the season with 26 points.
For the most part, Giannis did his part, finishing with 48 points and 14 rebounds in the loss. Unfortunately, the four other Bucks starters only managed a combined 23 points. Kyle Korver (17 points), Ersan Ilyasova (11) and George Hill (10) tried to pick up the slack for the starters, but they came up just short, especially in a 40-point fourth-quarter rally.
Key Player Matchups
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Anthony Davis
Giannis and Davis have stood out as MVP candidates this season. While they both play power forward, they play different styles. Giannis is an athletic, speedy full-court transition player, whereas Davis gets his work done in the halfcourt, although he does have range out to the three-point line. They’ll likely both try to use their strengths against each other as Giannis looks to take Davis off the dribble and Davis looks to use his strength in the low block.
LeBron James vs. Khris Middleton
Middleton has looked good since returning to the lineup, and he’s a solid perimeter defender, but he’ll have a tough matchup against James tonight. While James has taken on a different role as a distributor, he’s still more than capable of taking over and dominating.
Davis (if he plays) and Giannis are fantasy studs in tonight’s game. Davis is available for $10.2k on FanDuel and has a projection of 56.0 points, tied for the second-highest projection of tonight’s slate of games. Giannis has the top projection with 58 points for his $11.2k salary.
Middleton is a value pickup with a salary of $6.4k and a projection of 36.2 points. Rajon Rondo is a nice multi-cat option with a $4.6k salary for a 26-point projection.
Bet on Matchup
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