After an impressive stretch of road games, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers finally saw their streak end at the hands of the Indiana Pacers, but they still remain 24-4 during the 2019-20 NBA season.
The Pacers have been one of the more steady teams in the league despite not having Victor Oladipo in the lineup and they showed why against the Lakers as they were able to swarm them defensively and move the basketball well on offense.
Los Angeles was also without one of their All-Star players as Anthony Davis missed the game due to a sprained ankle, but they were still in a position to steal a win as Rajon Rondo rimmed out the potential game-tying three in regulation.
While the loss against the Pacers was disappointing, the Lakers do not have much time to dwell on it as their next game comes against the Milwaukee Bucks who are looking like the favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2020 NBA Finals. They share the best record with Los Angeles and it should be an entertaining game when they finally meet.
Despite the hype surrounding the matchup, James believes there is no added significance to the game, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“No. I’m 17 years in and a regular season game like that… it’s just two teams just trying to get better and better. But no, it doesn’t feel special.”
It is rare for two teams to be 24-4 after a quarter of the regular season has passed yet the Lakers and Bucks have clearly established themselves as powerhouses amongst the the rest of the league. Giannis Antetokounmpo has played at an elite level this season and presents several difficult challenges for Los Angeles to overcome.
The key to stopping Antetokounmpo will likely be Davis who has proven he can guard players of all sizes, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to play through the ankle sprain he suffered against the Atlanta Hawks. If he is unable to go, then it will take a collective effort from the rest of the roster to try and limit the reigning MVP.
While James has vocally deemphasized the upcoming encounter with Milwaukee, it is hard to imagine Los Angeles has not been mentally preparing for quite some time as this is their best opportunity to show they are indeed a contender. A win against the Bucks would go a long way in cementing their status as one of the 2020 NBA Finals favorites.