Both the Lakers and the Bucks will be playing in their second night of a back-to-back. The Lakers rescinded a huge lead last night, but managed to hold on and pull out a win in Minnesota. Meanwhile the Bucks lost to the 76ers, and are on a four game losing skid. Clearly the Lakers have their work cut out for them tonight as they will be tired from yesterday’s game. Since MWP is out due to injury, the Lakers are only eight deep. Coach D’Antoni may have to dip further into his bench tonight in order to find fresh legs.
Frontcourt: Larry Sanders is one of the best post defenders in the NBA and he will surely test Dwight Howard. While Sanders may not be much of a scorer, he is a great shot blocker, and pulls down nearly ten rebounds per game. Starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova has had a rollercoaster year. Coming into the season, many thought that Ersan was primed for a breakout season, but he struggled early on and was injured. However, currently he is playing some of his best basketball of the season, and will be a tough assignment for Gasol to guard since he can score from nearly anywhere on the court. Ersan averages 1.2 threes per game on a superb 42.9% percent shooting.
The Bucks’ small forward spot is an ever-rotating group of players that includes Marquis Daniels, Mike Dunleavy and Luc Mbah a Moute. Coach Jim Boylan can’t seem to make up his mind about who he’s going to play at that spot. When Mbah a Moute is healthy, he probably gets the most minutes in the group because he’s a great defender. Dunleavy is a shooting specialist who can light it up from beyond the arc (1.7 threes on 43 percent shooting.) Needless to say, he’ll need to be guarded closely along the perimeter.
Backcourt: The Bucks have two dynamic guards who can play at a frenetic pace. Luckily for the Lakers, Jennings is going through a rough patch at the moment, and even got benched by Coach Boylan for confronting him last game. When Jennings is on the court, he’s a superb passer who creates quality shots for his teammates. Monta Ellis is a slashing guard who is not afraid to look for his shot. He has a tendency to overshoot, which is something the Lakers should encourage. First off the bench is J.J. Redick, who is known for running off-screens and knocking down threes. Since Redick’s off-ball movement is very good, whoever has to chase Redick around the court will need fresh legs.
Key to Lakers’ Victory:
Defense for 48 Minutes: One of the main reasons the Lakers are barely above .500 and vying for the eighth seed is because of their defensive efficiencies. Scoring has been a rollercoaster affair for the team this season; sometimes they’re hot and other times they’re stagnant. If the Lakers could consistently defend, they would at least have something to fall back on when their offense isn’t clicking. Tonight will be a tough game for two reasons. One, it’s a road game. Two, it’s the second night of a back-to-back. The Lakers will need to come together as a team and commit to playing defense throughout the game.
Specifically, the Lakers guards will need to stay in front of Monta Ellis, and force him into shooting contested mid-range jumpers. If they allow him to drive into the paint or gain separation, he could torch the Lakers. They will also need to closely guard the Bucks along the perimeter as they have a myriad of three-point shooters.
It’s important to note that the Bucks are one of the least efficient offensive teams in the league. They rank near the bottom of the NBA with a collective field goal percentage of 43.6 percent. Hopefully the Lakers can take advantage of the Bucks offensive shortcomings, and ride their defense to the win.
Los Angeles Lakers (37-35) at Milwaukee Bucks (34-36)
5:00 PM PST, March 28, 2013
BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
TV: TWC Sportsnet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Bucks Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Brandon Jennings
SG: Monta Ellis
SF: Marquis Daniels
PF: Ersan Ilyasova
C: Larry Sanders
Key Reserves: SG: J.J. Redick, GF: Mike Dunleavy, C: Samuel Dalembert