Lakers Vs. Bucks Preview: L.A. Kicks Off Road Trip Against One Of NBA’s Top Teams
Anthony Davis Giannis Antetokounmpo Lakers Bucks
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers are set to kick off the toughest stretch of the season so far, a six-game East coast road trip that starts in Milwaukee against superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. The Lakers have played much better lately, winning 6 of their last 8 games, but the Bucks have won three straight themselves and are bringing back a big name.

All-Star forward Khris Middleton is expected to make his season debut for the Bucks after recovering from offseason wrist surgery. This makes an already difficult game even tougher for the Lakers, but even with Middleton’s return, all eyes will be on the matchup between Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Giannis is enjoying another MVP-caliber season, and Davis understands that containing him will fall on the entire Lakers team. “He’s been himself. Attacking the basket, playing well defensively,” Davis said about the two-time MVP. “Obviously it’s always a team effort guarding him. You know he’s a bull-dozer going down hill and getting to the paint. So we got to make sure that he sees bodies but I haven’t seen one guy in the league stop him one-on-one. It’s always a team effort. Make him see different coverages.”

Davis has returned to his 2020 form as of late, and the Lakers will need him at that level in order to have a chance at coming away with a win. One area of concern for the Lakers will be rebounding, as they have struggled to control the glass, and the Bucks lead the NBA in rebounding.

With Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez, and Bobby Portis, along with the returning Middleton, the Bucks have a lot of size up front, so it will be interesting to see if head coach Darvin Ham goes bigger with Thomas Bryant and Wenyen Gabriel getting more minutes.

Speaking of Ham, this is his first game back in Milwaukee, where he spent the last five years and helped the Bucks to the 2021 NBA Championship as an assistant under Mike Budenholzer. He has already admitted it could be an emotional night for him, but he will need to keep those in check as much as he can.

The Lakers will be welcoming back both Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr. after both missed Wednesday’s game, but the team will be without point guard Dennis Schroder due to personal issues. That takes away one of the team’s best playmakers meaning more pressure will be on LeBron James to get the Lakers’ offense going against the NBA’s best defensive team.

Ball and player movement will be absolutely crucial, as going one-on-one, even with LeBron and Davis, won’t be enough against the Bucks. Much like stopping Giannis defensively, getting the Lakers offense to thrive will need to be a team effort.

Los Angeles Lakers (8-12) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (15-5)

4:30 p.m. PT, December 2, 2022
Fiserv Forum, Milwuakee, WI
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Patrick Beverley
SG: Lonnie Walker IV
SF: Troy Brown Jr.
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves, Kendrick Nunn, Thomas Bryant, Wenyen Gabriel

Projected Bucks Starting Lineup:

PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Grayson Allen
SF: Khris Middleton
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
C: Brook Lopez

Key Reserves: Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, Jevon Carter, Wesley Matthews

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