In Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, the Lakers blew out of the Milwaukee Bucks on the road 125-94 thanks in small part to their lockdown defense. On Monday, it was the Lakers who were on the losing end of a defensive clinic.
The Bucks beat the Lakers 127-105 in Game 2 behind an all-around performance from the reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. In 33 minutes of playing time, Antetokounmpo put up 21 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He didn’t lead his team in scoring, trailing Eric Bledsoe by one point, but his 2 blocks were tied for the team-high with Robin Lopez, and his 2 steals were a team-high.
LeBron James was just as dominant for the Lakers with 33 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks, but his teammates — particularly Anthony Davis — left a lot to be desired. In 33 minutes, Davis contributed just 17 points to go along with 11 rebounds, a block and a steal. It was his worst performance of the postseason so far, and the worst part about it is that it wasn’t because of anything he did — the Bucks just played stellar defense.
As a team, the Bucks held the Lakers to 39% shooting from the field, including 29% shooting from behind the arc. The Lakers didn’t do themselves any favors, either, by going 13-22 from the charity stripe.
In addition to their defensive dominance, the Bucks’ bench poured on a bunch of points (55) at an efficient rate. Ersan Ilyasova scored 17 points on a perfect 3-3 shooting from 3-point range. George Hill wasn’t too far behind with 15 points.
All that being said, just one point separated the Bucks and Lakers at halftime, so it’s probably too soon to push the panic button. However, Davis’ performance was worrisome. Hopefully he responds in Game 3 with the home crowd at Staples Center behind him.