I’m sure every person reading this has gone on a road trip of some kind before. Some road trips are a blast. You get to spend plenty of time with friends and/or family, traveling in a vehicle to a destination — or many destinations — in the pursuit of making great memories along the way.
However, road trips can end up as terrible experiences. And usually, when those trips end up being not as fun as everyone planned they would be, it’s often because the trip suffered a bad start.
Maybe someone forgot something essential back at home that you had to turn around and get. Maybe a flat tire was suffered before you even got on the highway. Maybe you get into the metal box that your buddy calls a car and then you realize “Oh, wait... I’m not sure if I like these people enough to spend all this time with them.”
If you took all those theoretical, rough road trip starts and combined the dread felt from each situation, then you may get what the Lakers might feel after the first night of their longest road trip of the season thus far, as things may not go well against the 15-5 Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks are the best, if not the second-best (following the Suns) team that the Lakers will have faced this season. They certainly have the best player the Lakers will have played against all season in Giannis Antetokounmpo, with a figurative and probably literal collision ready to happen between him and Anthony Davis. Needless to say, it would be a major upset if the Lakers were to beat them on the road.
The Lakers will most likely struggle the most on the offensive end, as the Bucks are currently the league-leader in defensive rating at 106.5. However, most of that defensive work is done in the halfcourt as the Bucks actually rank 15th in points-per-possession given up in transition.
If the Lakers are to steal the first-of-six-straight road games, they will need to start by wreaking havoc on the defensive end themselves. If they can force some turnovers or gather some long rebounds to get out on the break as fast as they can, that would present what is possibly the only advantage they can gain against the formidable Bucks.
If the game has a slow pace, the Bucks will almost certainly wear the Lakers down behind Giannis’ physicality, Brook Lopez’s astounding defensive season, and the fact that Khris Middleton will be making his season debut, adding some much-needed shot creation to this Bucks’ team.
I wish I had more of a positive spin for this preview, but sadly, the odds are stacked against the Lakers. They’ll need all hands on deck with everyone playing at-or-near their fullest capabilities, and even if that happens they’ll probably need a little bit of luck as well to leave Milwaukee with the victory.
And speaking of all hands on deck...
Notes and Updates
- Troy Brown, Jr. is likely to make his return after missing Wednesday’s victory vs. the Trail Blazers due to left foot soreness. He is listed as probable. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are also listed as probable, however, Lonnie Walker (left foot soreness) and Dennis Schroder (personal reasons) are questionable.
- Walker’s left foot soreness kept him out of Wednesday’s game along with Brown. However, Brown’s was announced much earlier in the day with Walker’s coming as a late addition to the injury report.
- As for Schroder, the OC Register’s Kyle Goon noted that his wife is expecting a baby anytime soon with the questionable designation set to allow him to leave the team if need be to return home to welcome his child into the world.
- The absence of both Walker and Schroder would be devastating to a Lakers team that already has a tall task ahead of them, as those two being gone would result in an increased amount of minutes for Kendrick Nunn who continues his horrific 2022-23 campaign.
- As previously mentioned, Middleton will be making his season debut for the Bucks after missing every game so far due to ligament surgery he had in the offseason on his wrist. Other than that, the team will be without rookie MarJon Beauchamp (non-COVID illness), Serge Ibaka (non-COVID illness) and Joe Ingles (recovery from ACL injury).
The Lakers and Bucks will tip off really early on Friday night, with the game set to start at 4:30 p.m. PT. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN with the local broadcast happening on Spectrum SportsNet.