The Milwaukee Bucks surprised last night, beating up on a Golden State Warriors team that had their best player ejected in the first half. Tonight, they aim to try and not disappoint in a matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Milwaukee’s marquee three went 32-46 from the field, with Giannis leading the way with 32 points on a ridiculous 14-18 shooting performance. They capitalized on 19 sloppy turnovers by the Warriors, converting those into 23 points and outscoring the Warriors in the paint by ten. Shooting 55% from three helped too. It’s not surprising that an on-night for Milwaukee’s star players would lead to a win like that, but they’ll need to stay in attack mode against a Lakers squad tonight that lacks a defensive presence inside.
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
Bledsoe is at his best when he is unrelentingly attacking the paint, skipping the pull-up jumpers for barreling himself into defenders beneath the hoop. With Lonzo Ball questionable, Bledsoe may have his pickings against the ghosts of Bucks backcourt past in Tyler Ennis and possibly Gary Payton II, who is on a two-way with the Lakers. Lonzo is a capable defender, but if he’s out, Bledsoe should have no qualms about going after those guys.
The Los Angeles Lakers have had a bizarre year, partially stemming from the gonzo Ball family, but it’s evened out of late with an average second half of the season. They’ve gone 4-6 in their last ten, beat the Mavericks 103-93 on Wednesday and seem poised for an intriguing summer. Julius Randle will be up for an extension, but the improvement of Brandon Ingram and surprising jolt from Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart (questionable tonight) have provided an intriguing core of youth for them to build from. They also play at the fastest pace in the league. These teams haven’t faced off since early November when Milwaukee won 98-90 and Giannis went for 33 and 15. Fingers crossed O.J. Mayo isn’t in town showing his old squad the favorite watering holes he frequented with several Bucks a few seasons ago...
Player to Watch: Julius Randle
Randle, when engaged, is a tactful bull in a china shop. The man is a golem, sticking his girth into defenders and bowling over them when necessary. He’s averaging a career high 16.2 points, a career best 57.1% effective field goal percentage and is shooting 73.6% from 0-3 feet. This guy wants to get down low and punish your body. Whoever is matched up with him tonight will need to keep their center of gravity low and not bite on any perimeter trickery he tries, as very few of his shots come from outside.