The day has arrived for Andre Drummond to debut for the Los Angeles Lakers and the stage set for the moment couldn’t be any grander. The 27-year-old center is going to battle it out in the painted area with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center.
Drummond is set to jump right into the starting lineup for L.A. hoping to prolong the team’s two-game winning streak that follows four straight losses in the aftermath of LeBron James’ ankle injury. And he can make an immediate impact as the Lakers will certainly need extra help in the paint on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee has been the second-best rebounding team in the NBA and leads the league in defensive boards. Meanwhile, Drummond is averaging 13.5 rebounds per game registering numbers far better than the two forwards who aren’t injured and can regularly crash the glass for the Lakers: Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell, both putting up 6.8 rebounds a night.
That shows Drummond’s debut couldn’t come at a better time, particularly as Antetokounmpo is having another MVP award-worthy season. The All-Star forward is averaging 28.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 6.3 assists, leading his team in all three of the stat columns.
The Greek forward had an average night when the Lakers beat the Bucks 113-106 in January despite ending it with 25 points and 12 to his name. But to neutralize Antetokounmpo twice in a row, L.A. will have to come out of the tunnel locked in and prove why they still carry the mantle of the NBA’s best defense — particularly without James and Davis on the floor this time around.
Also, the Lakers should hone their aim from the perimeter as their scorching 3-point shooting dealt Milwaukee significant damage in January — they ended the night with an impressive 51.4% efficiency from behind the arc. The Bucks allow their rivals to attempt and make the third-highest number of triples in the NBA suggesting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Kuzma should enjoy a few open looks during the showdown. Converting them could end up being one of the deciding factors on Friday night.
Lakers fans can’t throw Drummond a loud welcome party at Staples Center due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
But they are counting down the hours left until he takes his place in the center circle, fight to win his first tip-off in the Purple and Gold jersey, and then prove he is the missing piece for the reigning NBA champions to defend the title.
Lakers (30-17) vs. Bucks (29-17)
7:00 p.m. PT, March 32, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers starting lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Kyle Kuzma
PF: Markieff Morris
C: Andre Drummond
Key Reserves: Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell, Alex Caruso, Wesley Matthews, Talen Horton-Tucker
Projected Bucks starting lineup:
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Donte DiVincenzo
SF: Khris Middleton
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Pat Connaughton, Mamadi Diakite, Bryn Forbes
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