Tonight’s battle between the 53–9 Milwaukee Bucks and the 47–13 Los Angeles Lakers will be a showdown between the two teams with the best records in the league and a likely preview of this summer’s NBA Finals.
With the game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Lakers will be looking to avenge their earlier 111–104 loss to the Bucks in Milwaukee back in December 2019 and even the series between the teams at one game each. The game will not only pit the Lakers and Bucks in a battle to gain an advantage should they meet in the Finals but could also determine whether LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo win league MVP honors.
There is no question the Lakers and Bucks rematch is the biggest game of the season. The Lakers and the Bucks both need to win this game and the outcome will dominate expectations as both teams head into the playoffs.
The Lakers don’t want to go into the Finals having lost to the Bucks twice including at home in the most recent game and the Bucks don’t want to go into the playoffs having lost their most recent matchup with the Lakers.
Keeping in mind what happened during the teams’ matchup in December 2019, here are the five things the Lakers need to do to win tonight:
- Get an Early Lead and Keep It. The Bucks jumped all over the Lakers early in the game back in December, leading by six at the end of the first quarter and by nineteen at the half. The Lakers need to get off to a good start, build an early lead, and put the pressure on the Bucks this time.
- Take and Make their Threes. The Buck’s defensive strategy is to clog the paint and force teams to hit their threes to beat them and that strategy worked to perfection in the two teams’ first game. The Lakers shot 12/35 from deep for 34.3% while the Bucks shot 16/39 for 41.0%.
- Play Anthony Davis at the Five. The Lakers need a big game for Davis who had a huge game from the line but didn’t shoot well from the field or from deep. McGee and Howard both were ineffective against Lopez and Antetokounmpo. AD needs to do better than 0/6 from deep.
- Clear a Side for Iso LeBron. The Lakers rarely cleared one side of the floor to isolate LeBron to attack Wesley Matthews one-on-one in the first game. This time they need to do that to prevent the Bucks from clogging the lane and free up LeBron to attack the rim and find open shooters.
- Get Points from the Bench. The Lakers’ bench was outscored 34–4 in the first game with point guard George Hill dominating Rajon Rondo and the Lakers backup guards. The Lakers need big games from Kyle Kuzma, who missed the first game, and Markieff Morris, who wasn’t on the team.
The Lakers need to win this game against the Bucks and Sunday afternoon’s game against the Clippers to live up to their expectations. If they can do the above five things, there’s a good chance they will win the game going away.
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