The Los Angeles Lakers made several big deals leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline. But with the new additions unable to join in time to make their debuts, L.A figures to be very shorthanded as they face one of the NBA’s best teams in the Milwaukee Bucks.
Due to pending trades, the Lakers are without Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Thomas Bryant, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damian Jones. They are also without the players they acquired in D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Mo Bamba and Davon Reed.
LeBron James is not available for the Lakers as well, missing Thursday’s contest with ankle soreness. However, he is being honored in a pre-game ceremony for surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
Meanwhile, the Bucks — who reportedly acquired Jae Crowder at the deadline — are without him, Jordan Nwora and Serge Ibaka. On the injury front, the Bucks are missing Bobby Portis and Joe Ingles, but have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez available after both were listed on the injury report.
With the Lakers missing so many players, it’s easier to focus on the handful that are available. Anthony Davis — who struggled against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday — figures to play and receive the marquee matchup against Antetokounmpo.
Rui Hachimura, Dennis Schroder, Troy Brown Jr., Lonnie Walker IV, Austin Reaves, Wenyen Gabriel and Max Christie all join Davis in the lineup, giving the team eight active players. Against the red-hot Bucks, securing a win may be a tall task.
The Bucks have won their last eight contests and sit just 1.5 games back of the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 overall seed, despite missing Khris Middleton for much of the season. The big thing going for L.A. is Milwaukee’s inexplicable struggles on the road.
Milwaukee — currently 20 games above .500 — is just 14-12 in road games this season. They’re an almost unbeatable 23-5 at home, with one of those five losses coming to the former iteration of the Lakers.
Davis must be a leading force if the Lakers are going to have any chance of competing against the Bucks. He has been somewhat inconsistent since returning from a stress reaction in his foot but is not far removed from playing All-NBA level basketball.
Los Angeles Lakers (25-30) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (37-17)
7:00 p.m. PT, Feb. 9, 2023
Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California
TV: TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: Troy Brown Jr.
PF: Rui Hachimura
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Lonnie Walker IV, Wenyen Gabriel, Max Christie
Projected Bucks Starting Lineup:
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Pat Connaughton
SF: Grayson Allen
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Khris Middleton, Jevon Carter, Wesley Matthews, MarJon Beauchamp
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