The Los Angeles Lakers — with their Western Conference-best record of 24-4 — will take on the Milwaukee Bucks — with their Eastern Conference-best record of 24-4 — in a battle of the NBA’s two best teams with the winner claiming the best record in basketball for the time being.
This has been a highly anticipated matchup for the entire month of December and with both teams coming off losses, the stakes will be even higher. The Lakers were riding a 14-game road winning streak that was snapped by the Indiana Pacers, 105-102. The Bucks were in the middle of an 18-game winning streak that ended when the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks stole the win 120-116.
Both the Lakers and Bucks made it a goal for the 2019-20 NBA season to never lose back-to-back games and only one of these teams will successfully be able to keep that goal.
The Bucks being 24-4 is all the more impressive considering they’re one of the rare contending teams that didn’t follow the All-Star duo formula that many other teams are doing. While Khris Middleton is clearly the team’s second-best player, it’s Giannis Antetoukounmpo that defines this team.
The Lakers, on the other hand, have found success on the heels of Anthony Davis and LeBron James. At the moment, it’s hard to discern which of these two All-Star players are playing better with both leading the Lakers in just about every possible category.
This game will begin a small stretch of extremely difficult games for the Lakers. After this game, the Lakers will finally return home where they’ll have a date with the Denver Nuggets followed by the most anticipated game of the season with the Los Angeles Clippers. They’ll then take on the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks in a back-to-back situation.
The Lakers will be without Kyle Kuzma for this game as he recovers from a sprained ankle. Davis missed the Pacers loss with an ankle injury of his own, but will play against the Bucks.
The Bucks will continue to be without Eric Bledsoe as he recovers from a leg fracture but will be healthy otherwise.
While the NBA world was waiting for the Christmas Day rematch with the Clippers, this game may have even more intrigue to it as if all goes well, this could be a legitimate 2020 NBA Finals preview. And if it is, whoever wins now and in turn holds the NBA’s best record may have an advantage when the 2020 NBA playoffs come around.
Los Angeles Lakers (24-4) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (24-4)
5:00 P.M. PT, Dec. 19, 2019
Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Kentavious Cadlwell-Pope
SF: Danny Green
PF: Jared Dudley
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Avery Bradley, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Troy Daniels
Projected Bucks Starting Lineup:
PG: Wesley Matthews
SG: Donte DiVincenzo
SF: Khris Middleton
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: George Hill, Kyle Korver, Ersan Ilyasova, Pat Connaughton