Straight out of a Hollywood script. That’s how tonight’s matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers feels. Well, as long as you consider the fact most Hollywood movies are trash, and we can only hope the Bucks go Godzilla on Lebron James’ Lakers tonight and send them packing with an L in tow.
Sunday’s Sixers-Bucks matchup was one of the most memorable of the year, even if it resulted in a 130-125 loss for Giannis Antetokounmpo and crew. It certainly wasn’t without effort from the Bucks’ star though, who put up a career high 52 points and called noted 3-point coward Ben Simmons a baby on national television. Yes, even in defeat, Giannis manages to provide endless bouts of joy. Much of the loss could be chalked up to some abnormally hot (46.9%) shooting from deep for the Sixers, but the Bucks also couldn’t take care of business on the defensive glass. Los Angeles doesn’t offer nearly the same athleticism and length as the Sixers, nor do they offer the general competency. In Milwaukee’s last bout with Minneapolis’s original team, they kept it close and pulled ahead with a 12-point advantage in the fourth quarter. Milwaukee’s injury list is a mile long: Giannis is questionable with his ankle sprain, Donte DiVincenzo is doubtful, Ersan Ilyasova has an illness and is probable while Sterling Brown and Malcolm Brogdon are still out.
Here’s a huge bummer update for tonight. At least LeBron isn’t playing either (see below). Oh ya, Pau Gasol is also out too, you know what that means...MAJOR DJ Wilson minutes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is out tonight against the Lakers.— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) March 19, 2019
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
He struggled against the Sixers, going just 5-14 for 12 points. Despite his advantage against their weaker perimeter defenders, their length at the basket likely contributed to his subpar day. Last time out in LakerLand, he was celebrating fresh ink on a 4-year contract extension and led the Bucks to victory with a 31-point, 9-rebound, five assist performance. The Lakers don’t offer nearly the same type of rim protection as Philadelphia, so look for Bledsoe to attack the basket relentlessly.
Since their trade deadline acquisition of Anthony Davi...wait, that’s not right, let’s try it again. After coming back from injury, LeBron James has galvanized this young Lakers squad into a playoff...oh, that’s no true either? Jeesh. Well they must’ve at least beaten the divebombing New York Knicks their last time out...*checks box score*...welp. The Lakers recent oncourt struggles are just the latest story arc in this interminably long, drama-filled season for them. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram (get well soon!) are shut down for the year as well, leaving LeBron James to, I guess, fill seats? They’re 2-8 in their last ten and seemingly stealth tanking at this point despite James continuing to play. The Bucks can’t rest on their laurels though, as they need to secure home court for the playoffs.
One stat to watch for, the Lakers are number one in the league in terms of frequency of shots at the rim, per Cleaning The Glass. The Bucks are tops at deterring teams from taking shots at the rim, and defend it better than anyone else. Last time out, the Bucks won that battle, forcing the Lakers to a rim frequency akin to the 13th ranked team in the league. Keep that up, and the Bucks should be able to take care of business.
Player to Watch: LeBron James
The King is still the King, even if that may not be true for much longer. How many times do we get to see Giannis match up against the premier player of this generation though? I, for one, will relish any opportunity to do so while it’s still here. What a shame we couldn’t have seen them together in at least one Playoff series while LeBron still enjoyed his romps through the Eastern Conference.
Sorry folks, I guess Kyle Kuzma might be kinda fun? If only the Beas were still around...
LeBron James will not play tonight due to a sore left groin.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) March 19, 2019
Game 71: Against the Lakers the Bucks will
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Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)