Thursday night features an NBA matchup of the best teams from each conference as the Western Conference’s Los Angeles Lakers (24-4) travel to the Fiserv Forum to take on the Eastern Conference’s Milwaukee Bucks (24-4). While both teams hold comfortable leads in their respective divisions, this could be an early barometer of how they might stack up in the postseason and certainly would be a signature win for whichever team comes out victorious.
The Lakers come into this one having won seven of their last eight games; however, their lone loss was a 105-102 setback against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. Still, with a 3.5-game lead over the LA Clippers in the West, they have built a steady cushion through the dominant play of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Bucks had actually won 18 games in a row before seeing their winning streak snapped by the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. Now, after having a few days off, they will look to restart a new streak and continue to build on their four-game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Bucks come into this one as 4.5-point favorites playing at home.
By The Numbers
Both of these teams rank in the top 10 in the league offensively. Milwaukee sits atop the rankings in terms of points per game, averaging 121 points per game (122.3 at home). Los Angeles is eighth, averaging 112.9 points per game (112.9 on the road).
Defensively, it is Los Angeles that holds the advantage, as it currently ranks second in the NBA, allowing just 103.9 points per game (106.1 points on the road). The Bucks are 14th, allowing an average of 108.1 points per game (107.9 at home).
Lakers Look To Continue Road Magic
While the Lakers have been pretty dominant regardless of the venue, they have been especially solid on the road, where they have gone 14-2. A large part of their success is due to the two-headed monster that is James and Davis.
James is averaging 25.9 points on 49.8 percent shooting, 7.4 rebounds and a league-best 10.6 assists per game. Not to be outdone, Davis is averaging 27.4 points per game on 49.9 percent shooting, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Other significant contributors for the Lakers include Danny Green (8.2 points, 3.8 rebounds), Dwight Howard (seven points, seven rebounds), JaVale McGee (7.3 points, 6.2 rebounds), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (8.6 points) and Kyle Kuzma (11.1 points, 3.4 rebounds), though Kuzma is still out with an injury.
Bucks Try To Prove They’re NBA’s Best
The Bucks have been relatively unstoppable in the Eastern Conference, and it is partially because they have arguably the best player in the NBA on their squad. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been absolutely sensational this season, averaging 31.7 points on 56.7 percent shooting, 12.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Outside of the “Greek Freak,” Khris Middleton is contributing 18.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists, while Eric Bledsoe is averaging 15 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists.
Other major contributors for the Bucks have included Donte DiVincenzo (8.6 points, 4.3 rebounds), George Hill (9.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists), and Brook Lopez (9.6 points, five rebounds).
Taking The Lakers And The Points
This should be quite the showdown. You have the best scoring team in the league playing at home versus one of the best defensive teams in the NBA that has one of the best road records.
Honestly, I could see this one going either way as there are superstars on both sides that could easily take over the game. With so much star power, I am inclined to take the points in this one, especially with a spread of 4.5 points. It would not shock me if the Bucks win, but for my money, I am taking the Lakers and the points.