For the second time this season, the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks might offer us an NBA Finals preview — this time in Staples Center. Last time these two teams faced off, it was Milwaukee who fairly handily beat L.A., but that was on their home court, with the Lakers at the end of a long road trip and Giannis Antetokounmpo shooting absolutely out of his mind from three.
Under potentially less-adverse circumstances, the Lakers will have a chance to emphatically refute the narrative that they can’t beat the league’s best teams.
This matchup starts with two of the most talented wings the NBA will ever see. LeBron James is enjoying a truly magical season given where he is at in his career, but it’s Antetokounmpo who will likely take home this season’s MVP award for the second year in a row.
Arguably the best way for James to make his case for the award is to take care of business against the odds-on favorite to win in a head-to-head matchup, but Giannis has been so special that it might not even matter.
Theoretically speaking, though, if James and Antetokounmpo cancel each other out, that leaves Anthony Davis with the opportunity to be the separating factor between the two teams. Khris Middleton will obviously have something to say about that, but Davis is the more talented player, and he really needs to step up in games like this so as to gain some confidence in case these two teams meet up in June.
According to the injury report, both teams should be heading into this game at full strength, which makes for quite the treat. Alex Caruso had sat out the previous two games but he and Davis are both listed as probable. For Milwaukee, their health is an attribute to how dominant they’ve been, allowing them to sit important players so often during blowouts.
Tip-off for this incredible matchup is slated for 7:30 p.m. PST from Staples Center. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN, and locally on Spectrum SportsNet.
Notes and Updates
- The Lakers would clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight.
- L.A. added Dion Waiters yesterday, but while he’ll reportedly participate in the team’s walkthrough tonight, there is “no plan” to play him, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. (Sunday against the Clippers would seem to be more likely, if Frank Vogel decides to put him in the rotation right away). The front office also may not be done bolstering the roster.
- Our own Harrison Faigen dropped a Q and A with Vogel on Rajon Rondo, how he sees net rating, and the Lakers’ young players.
- We will update this page with any status updates on the Lakers heading into tonight’s game. The team does not have shootaround today, so any news likely won’t come until closer to 5:45 p.m. PST, when Vogel speaks with the media pregame.
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