Things haven’t gone well for the Los Angeles Lakers so far in their first road trip of the season. They have fallen behind big in losses to the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards. Now things don’t get any easier as they head to Milwaukee to face early MVP favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
Milwaukee is coming in on a high note as they snapped a four—game losing streak last night in San Antonio to the Spurs. But now they have to turn around to fly home on the second night of a back-to-back.
Milwaukee just got a big boost as they recently traded for point guard Eric Bledsoe who will give them another playmaker as well as improve their backcourt depth.
The Lakers will be looking to get things back on track after a pair of subpar defensive performances. Much of the focus has been on Lonzo Ball’s failure to shoot, but he now gets the chance to go head-to-head with the player he had his best game against.
The last time Ball and Bledsoe squared off, Lonzo set the NBA world on fire with his 29 points, 11 rebound, nine assist performance. He will look to replicate that performance and the Bucks could be the right team as they are 29th in the NBA in defensive rating. This will only be Bledsoe’s second game with Milwaukee so he will still be figuring things out with his new teammates.
The shooting guard match-up features a pair of prototypical ‘3-and-D’ wings in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tony Snell. Though not a shot creator, Snell is the Bucks’ best shooter at 53.8 percent from deep on nearly four attempts a game.
Caldwell-Pope has been up and down so far for the Lakers. His defense has been as advertised and he leads the team in steals. Offensively, however, he has been very streaky and is now shooting below 30 percent from three-point range. He has also forced shots at times so he will need to find a better balance.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year, Malcolm Brogdon now leads the Bucks bench unit. He can score, create for others, and is a knockdown shooter so he will continue to play a big role. Matthew Dellavedova continues to bring toughness and energy and is a pitbull defensively.
Jordan Clarkson remains one of the best bench scorers in the entire NBA and has been arguably the Lakers’ most consistent offensive option this season. Josh Hart will need to find his jumper again as he has been ice cold recently.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a match-up nightmare for anyone and the Lakers will need to figure out who will be checking him. The Greek Freak is leading the NBA with 31.5 points per game to go along with 10 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.6 blocks. Whether it is Kyle Kuzma or Brandon Ingram guarding him, the Lakers will need to be in help position all night long.
Next to him is the Bucks’ second-leading scorer Khris Middleton who has improved immensely over the years, especially as a passer. His 5.5 assists lead the Bucks and while he hasn’t shot the ball great so far this year, he is always capable of getting hot from deep.
The pair of Ingram and Kuzma had an off night in Washington. Ingram had just 10 points on only eight shots while Kuzma shot just 4-14 and has looked hesitant so far on this road trip. As a leader on this team, Ingram especially will need to step up his aggression level to get the Lakers over the hump.
Brook Lopez has a clear size advantage over the Bucks center duo of John Henson, who recently was moved into the starting lineup, and Thon Maker. Both are extremely long and athletic however, so Lopez may be best served grinding them in the paint and potentially getting them in foul trouble.
Off the bench, Julius Randle continues to be a bright spot and many are already calling for him to play more minutes than his 19.2 per game. Mirza Teletovic remains an offensive weapon, but a liability on the defensive end for Milwaukee.
Three Keys To Lakers Victory
Control the Pace: Milwaukee ranks 21st in the NBA in pace so they do not want to get out in a track meet with the Lakers. If L.A. can push the pace, without turning the ball over, they will put the Bucks in an uncomfortable position.
Crash the Glass: The Lakers are a top-10 rebounding team while the Bucks are dead last. They are particularly weak on the offensive glass so the Lakers should be able to clear out most Bucks misses. Creating extra possessions for themselves with offensive rebounds is key for a Lakers team struggling to make shots.
Aggressive Ingram: Going up against a player many have compared him to in Antetokounmpo, Ingram must get back to his aggressive style. Attacking the basket and drawing fouls is his recipe for success and the Lakers need him to step up as their leading scorer.
strong>Los Angeles Lakers (5-7) Vs. Milwaukee Bucks (5-6)
5:30 P.M. PST, November 11, 2017
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Corey Brewer, Josh Hart
Projected Bucks Starting Lineup:
PG: Eric Bledsoe
SG: Tony Snell
SF: Khris Middleton
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
C: John Henson
Key Reserves: Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker, Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic, Jason Terry
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