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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview: Khristmas Comes Early

Middleton is back!

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Fiserv Forum stand will invariably be full of far too many LeBron James jerseys tonight as the Los Angeles Lakers stroll to town, but it’s all about Khris Middleton tonight as he returns to the Milwaukee Bucks lineup for the first time since getting injured in Round One against the Chicago Bulls last spring.

Where We’re At


Who knows how many minutes Mike Budenholzer will give Middleton in his first action back (my guess is around 15 minutes), but it’ll be great to finally see our “do stuff” king back in the lineup. Alongside him, the team is coming off an ugly, but gutty win against the New York Knicks that featured putrid shooting all around from deep. With a meager five turnovers, the Bucks were able to muster just enough offense (thanks Grayson!) in the end to hold off a Knicks team that battered them on the offensive glass (35% compared to Bucks 22%’ DREB season average).

Mitchell Robinson beat up Giannis and Brook Lopez about as much as any player I can remember down there, but I seriously doubt AD or LeBron have the interest in doing the same in this contest.

As for the Lakers, they’ve stabilized somewhat from their abysmal start and now stand at 8-12, but only 6.5 games out of first in the jumbled Western Conference. They’re coming off a 128-109 waxing of the injured Portland Trailblazers on Wednesday evening, behind 31 points from LeBron. With Darvin Ham visiting his old coaching buddies back in Milwaukee, he’s helped the team to this record primarily behind their defense. They’re in the top ten per Cleaning The Glass, but their offense is bottom-ten at the moment. And if you thought the Bucks 3-point shooting was rough to watch, it looks like Ham brought some of the Milwaukee postseason magic to LA, where they’ve hit merely 32.6% of their attempts from beyond the arc. Woof.

Player to Watch

Beyond the obvious, I’m actually interested to see how Pat Connaughton looks in this one. He played by far his most minutes of the season against the Knicks (23), but hasn’t been able to find the rhythm from deep at just 25% so far. Milwaukee could use his cutting, passing and shooting even with Middleton returning to the lineup, so here’s hoping more consistent play gets him back in the groove.


Game 21: Against the Lakers, the Bucks will.....

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  • 61%
    Win big (10 or more points)
    (81 votes)
  • 27%
    Win close (9 or fewer points)
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  • 9%
    Lose close (9 or fewer points)
    (13 votes)
  • 1%
    Lose big (10 or more points)
    (2 votes)
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