Showtime: 7:30pm PT
Plot: There's really no such thing as a "must-win" game in December. The same could be said about January and February and nine times out of ten, in March.
But as the skidding Los Angeles Lakers host the league's worst record tomorrow night, it most certainly is a must-win.
The Show plays in its last game of 2013, playing the woeful 6-24 Bucks in a New Year's Eve game. There's really only one way to recap Milwaukee's season: it's been an absolute nightmare. Two of their best players, Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders, have missed most of the season with injury. Ovinton J'Anthony Mayo hasn't blossomed as some suggested he would as a primary offensive weapon. Brandon Knight, rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo and Caron Butler can't score with any type of efficiency. Put this all together and you have one of, if not the worst offense in the league. Even the Lakers's putrid defense should be able to shut down Milwaukee's offensive "attack", if you can call it that.
Meanwhile, LA sits in the midst of a five game losing streak, including a terrible 111-104 loss to the one road win Sixers on Sunday night. Without a healthy point guard to lead their attack, the Lakers have been a confused, discombobulated set of one-on-one scorers who have seldom put together four full quarters of a cohesive offense without Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake and Steve Nash. Point guards seem to be falling by the wayside by the day, as fifth string point guard Xavier Henry will be sidelined at least a week with a knee sprain he suffered during the contest versus Philly. Meanwhile, Jordan Farmar did not practice today with hamstring tightness, but is expected to play tomorrow night.
Even still, the Lakers should be able to easily overwhelm a Milwaukee team that's 3-12 on the road and has won just once since December 11th. The Lakers will have Pau Gasol after he missed several games with an upper respiratory illness, as well as a hobbled Chris Kaman in their front court rotation. Given that the Lakers simply execute plays, they should be able to beat Milwaukee on sheer talent, even as short-handed as the team is.
Despite this being a December 31st contest, make no mistake: this is a must-win game for the Lakers.
It's a must-win in terms of simply establishing momentum going into a tough January schedule that features ten road games to only five home games.
It's a must-win in terms of showing this team that even with multiple injuries at multiple positions, they still have enough to beat the worst team in the league.
It's a must-win in terms of simply breaking a five game skid that could easily extend into double-digits given how rough the opening month of 2014 will be.
It's a must-win in terms of not absolutely destroying the confidence of this Lakers squad, as they will have lost two games in a row to the two worst records in the NBA.
The Lakers have to have this one. If no other reason to keep their dignity.
Have a very wonderful, safe New Year's Eve, everyone. We here at SS&R are looking forward to another awesome year with the help of our awesome readership. Onward!
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino