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Bucks vs. Lakers Preview: Bucks Look for Deja Vu in the Staples Center

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Following an exciting win over the Clippers, Milwaukee aims to keep its playoff push going

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After their exciting win Wednesday night against the Clippers, the Bucks are back at it tonight — and on the same exact court their victory over the Clippers occurred, as the team gets set to face the Los Angeles Lakers tonight at 9:30 p.m. CST.

Milwaukee has faced the Lakers once this season, back on February 10 at the Bradley Center. It was a lethargic game they lost 122-114. Let’s just say this: The only highlight of the night was Swaggy P being Swaggy P in the L.A. locker room (spending his entire interview asking Julius Randle where he got his pants).

Bucks Update

You already know what I’m going to say for this Bucks update. This team is red hot, having won eight out of their last 11 games. If you’re any bit of a fan (obviously you are, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this), you’re still jacked over Wednesday’s victory over the Clippers. With that win, the Bucks swept — yes, swept — the Los Angeles Clippers. Who would’ve ever thought that would happen just a few weeks ago when it seemed as if this team hit rock bottom?

NOTE: Since I’ve become part of the Brewhoop staff, the Bucks have won eight of their last 12 games. Just saying!

With the win over the Clips, Milwaukee now sits as the seventh (!!!) seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race and are only 1.5 games out of the sixth spot. As we’ve said multiple times before during this exciting stretch, Khris Middleton continues to be the driving factor, although the Bucks won against the Clips despite a decidedly average performance from both he and Giannis with 16 points each. The Bucks will need a strong showing from those two in order to string together consecutive wins again after their win streak was snapped in Memphis.

On the necessities of defense, Milwaukee will need all hands on deck in order to halt Julius Randle. The power forward out of Kentucky is gaining strides in today’s NBA. Over his last 10 games, he’s averaging more than 14 points per game, making up for the offense that left town when the team shipped then-leading scorer Lou Williams to Toronto. Randle is coming off an impressive 32-point performance against the Rockets.

Look for Giannis to have a big game. The Greek Freak notched a career-high in points the first time these teams met with 41 points. Let’s just hope Kidd doesn’t inexplicably sit him in the fourth quarter come crunch time. In fact, let’s hope there isn’t even a need for crunch time.

All Bucks should be good to go for the game.

Lakers Update

In case you were wondering, the Lakers still aren’t good at all. They still hold the last spot in the Western Conference by over two games. It’s a game the Bucks should win. Los Angeles is 1-9 since the All-Star break, with their only victory coming on March 9 against the Suns. But inconsistency with this Bucks team is something that we’re all too aware of, so no team can be overlooked. That was the case when the two teams matched up back in February. Yeah, the one where Nick Young exploded for 26 points and had all the swag in the world.

As was mentioned above, Julius Randle is receiving a bulk of the offensive load following Williams’ departure. He didn’t make too much noise against the Bucks in their prior matchup, tallying only 15 points. Nonetheless, the Bucks are going to need to keep an eye on him.

It’s a matchup that definitely prefers the Bucks, especially considering the Lake Show’s defense. They sit 28th in the league in points allowed (111.8 PPG) and last in defensive efficiency (110.7), something the Bucks need to take advantage of. The first meeting featured only 21 minutes of Khris Middleton, which resulted in just six points. With his presence, L.A.’s defense should (in theory) be exploited. But basketball is a crazy game, so who knows! The Bucks could come out and lay an egg.

As was the case against a struggling Memphis team, expect the Lakers to come out in a fighting and ticked off manner. Things are going even further south for them and they just lost to Houston by 39, so they don’t have too much to lose at this point. But if the Bucks keep their heads up and don’t shoot an ice cold 30 percent on the night, this seems like a game they should win.

The Lakers have effectively packed it in for the year, hoping to cement that top spot in the lottery, so Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng aren’t even playing. Whether that is helping or hurting them is probably an open question. Additionally, Tyler Ennis is getting spot minutes so prepare for the potential of the most tepid of revenge games from him. Larry Nance Jr. and Nick Young are both listed as probable.