Lakers start extended long trip against Milwaukee Bucks

Lakers defeated the Bucks on March 8th, 123-122, in Los Angeles. LeBron James did not play in that game.

We only have 19 days left in the regular season and the Lakers still find themselves in the 9th seed of the tough Western Conference. But what we have noticed is that the Lakers might be peaking at the right time. This is the first time the Lakers have been 7 games above .500 this season and L.A. has won three in a row.

Of course, what I just said might have been foolish. The Lakers have 11 games left in this season but the next 6 games are going to be away from Los Angeles. This long expedition really could break the season, especially with Houston on a heater and Golden State always being dangerous as long as Stephen Curry is around.

The first stop of this trip? Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bucks are waiting there and hoping to get their win back against L.A.

The Lakers won a thrilling contest against the Bucks a couple of weeks ago in Crypto. L.A. had just taken the lead after D’Angelo Russell made a clutch floater. And then Spencer Dinwiddie was able to get a clean block on Damian Lillard’s go-ahead jumper. Dinwiddie has been fantastic as of late but that pack on Lillard still stands as his best play as a Laker.

L.A. played against the Bucks without LeBron James, which actually makes the win on March 8th a bit impressive. He’s listed as doubtful for Tuesday night with his ankle ailments. Honestly not surprising as the Lakers will also be playing on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. But conventional wisdom would think they’d rather have a more complete team against the Bucks while having players sit out against a team that has pretty much punted the season in Memphis. I’m not coaching or managing the team, though.

Either way, Anthony Davis has had quite the week. He was so good that he was the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week. I think 27 points and nearly 17 boards a game in the last three (all wins) aren’t bad at all. He’ll have his hands full against Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had a 34-14-12 trip-dub in their first match-up.

Damian Lillard had 25 points and 12 dimes himself. And the Bucks bench provided a huge boost against the Lakers (Pat Connaughton scored 17 while Bobby Portis put in 14 points). They also have to watch Khris Middleton’s shooting and perimeter defense while Brook Lopez will shoot them threes and will be providing rim protection.

The Lakers defense melted against the Pacers as both teams had furious offensive runs. L.A. dropped 150 in their win over Indy but they also relaxed late and let them score 145. Also, if L.A. can keep their turnovers down, they should be good against the Bucks. Their first match-up was a clean game (11 total turnovers from both teams) and that enabled both teams to keep up with each other.

D’Angelo Russell was hitting everything in that fourth quarter as he scored 21 of his Laker-high 44 points against Milwaukee 18 days ago. He was a late scratch against the Pacers with a non-COVID illness but was absent in the latest injury report, which means he should be good to go against Milwaukee. And that’s good news for L.A. since there’s a chance LeBron may not play. They’ll need all the scoring they can get shuold he sit out.

We don’t know which version of the Lakers will show up here. Is it the one that will pile all the points against Milwaukee? Or is it the one that will grind with passion and make points a premium like they did against the Sixers and the Knicks?

Whichever way they go, what matters is getting the win. And they’ll need every single one of them as the play-in games and the postseason are coming up fast.