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Bucks vs. Lakers Preview: Milwaukee heads West looking for five straight wins over Lakers

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucks head West for a four-game road swing, with the first stop being in sunny Los Angeles where crazy things like wind chill don't exist. Imagine that.

Milwaukee has won its last four games against the Lakers and will look to make it five tonight. Should they win, it would tie their current longest winning streak against any opponent, the Sixers being the other team.

Speaking of (former) Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams and company will look to build on a strong debut against one of the league's worst defenses on Wednesday. The Lakers come into tonight with the league's second worst defense, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bucks' offense -- which will be without OJ Mayo for a second straight game -- put on a repeat performance. In fact, the Bucks will face three of the six worst defenses (Lakers 29th, Jazz 25th, Nuggets 24th) before a big game against Golden State and their league-best defense on Wednesday. That should serve as a nice trial run for the new offense.

Lakers Update

The Lakers have won two straight games after enduring a 1-16 stretch that included a dramatic overtime loss in Milwaukee on February 4. The losses of Kobe Bryant and Julius Randle took the wind out of the team's competitive sails, and now it's basically just a mad rush to the finish line, where a shiny (top-five protected) pick and prospect await them. Some call it a disgraceful tank job, others call it hope. Harrison Faigen from Silver Screen and Roll writes:

"You're watching the Lakers at this point because you've come this far.

Now, we get to staple hope onto the play of a second-round prospect in Jordan Clarkson. There's no telling what this team will look like, but it's that whole Harvey Dent syndrome -- the night is always darkest just before the dawn. There should be some optimism in getting Julius Randle back along with a top-five talent, a hopefully rejuvenated Kobe Bryant on what could be his last run, and maybe a free agent or two next season. That's leaps and bounds better than whatever it is the Lakers are currently.

It's time to make this final purge therapeutic."

That race to the bottom may be aided tonight, as Nick Young Swaggy P Nick Young (knee) is listed as questionable. He missed Wednesday's game against the Jazz with same injury.

Injuries

I made mention of it earlier, but O.J. Mayo is out again tonight. Mayo had tweaked his hamstring at least once coming out of the All-Star Break, and Jason Kidd has opted to let him rest for a few games instead of testing it. Outside of Mayo,  the rest of the Bucks (outside of the long-term injuries) should be go to go.

Four Factors

The Lakers don't do many things well, but they do actually rank fourth in turnover ratio at 13.3 The three teams ahead of them are the Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, and Dallas Mavericks, teams with legitimate playoff hopes.

The Bucks have the second highest turnover ratio at 17.2, but also force the highest ratio at 17.7. It's no secret that Milwaukee likes to create turnovers that lead into transition baskets and easy offense, so it will be interesting to see who is able to make more of an impact in that department tonight.

Key Matchup: Lakers bigs vs. Bucks bigs

The last time these two teams played, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis combined for 35p/29r, and consistently managed to sneak behind the Bucks defense for easy baskets that nearly paved the way for a big upset. And that was without Jordan Hill.

If the Bucks do want to get out and run, they'll need to cut possessions off quicker, and that happens with better rebounding. The Lakers rank 12th in Offensive Rebound Percentage and the Bucks are 29th in Defensive Rebound Percentage, so the battle on the glass will be key to extending the win streak tonight.

14/15 NBA Season
Mil_medium
(32-25, 15-14 road)
vs.
Los-angeles-lakers.v9135551
(15-41, 8-19 home)
February 27th, 2015
Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA
9:30 CT
Fox Sports Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Michael Carter-Williams PG Jordan Clarkson
Khris Middleton SG Wayne Ellington
Giannis Antetokounmpo SF Ryan Kelly
Ersan Ilyasova PF Carlos Boozer
Zaza Pachulia C Robert Sacre
2014/15 Advanced Stats
96.4 (14th)
Pace 96.7 (12th)
101.3 (21st)
ORtg 101.5 (t-17th)
98.7 (2nd)
DRtg 108.2 (29th)

On the Lakers: Silver Screen and RollForum Blue & Gold