Lakers Vs Bucks Preview: L.A. Looks To Slow Down Giannis And Company

Lakers Vs Bucks Preview: L.A. Looks To Slow Down Giannis And Company

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Giannis Antetokounmpo, D'Angelo Russell, Lakers, Bucks
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off perhaps their worst defeat of the season, a 39-point blowout loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. Julius Randle set a career-high with 32 points and eight rebounds. Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson finished with 18 points a piece. They struggled mightily on the defensive end as the Rockets got every look they wanted. Tonight they try and get back in the win column as they welcome the Milwaukee Bucks to town.

The Buck have been playing well as of late. They are coming off a one-point victory over the Los Angeles Clippers also on Wednesday night. Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounpmo each had 16 points. They will try and continue their strong play against the Lakers tonight.

Backcourt

Matthew Dellavedova and Tony Snell hold down the starting frontcourt for the Bucks. Dellavedova does not provide much offense, but he can facilitate the ball pretty well. He averages five assists per game, which helps his teammates get open shots. He is a menace on the defensive end. He is not afraid to play hard against the best point guards in the league, and he often frustrates them through his aggressive style of play.

Snell also does not provide much offense, but he can shoot the ball well from three-point territory. He is shooting 40.6 percent from that distance this season. Defense also is his calling card. His 6’7” body frame allows him to make things difficult for offensive players.

Jason Terry and Malcolm Brogdon come off the bench for the Bucks. Even though Terry is one of the older players in the league, he is still one of the better shooters in the league. He is especially lethal from the three-point line. The Lakers must make sure he does not have a good shooting night. Brogdon is one of the best rookies this season. He is averaging 10 points and 4.1 assists per game. He is capable of lighting up the scoreboard, so it is important for the Lakers to keep a close eye on him.

The Lakers will probably go with the same starting backcourt they have gone with the past couple of games, which features Jordan Clarkson and Nick Young. Both are capable of scoring in bunches, but their issue has been their inconsistency. Clarkson has been playing better as of late especially scoring the ball. Young is in a bit of slump but has the ability to catch fire at any moment. They both need to lay well for the Lakers to be competitive.

Off the bench, the Lakers turn to D’Angelo Russell, David Nwaba, and Tyler Ennis. Russell is clearly the best of the three and must assert himself both offensively and defensively early to be effective. When he becomes disinterested, he does not play to the level the Lakers need him too. Nwaba and Ennis are in games to provide sparks, and for the most part, they have been able to that. Hopefully, they can provide some spark tonight against a Bucks team that’s playing well at the moment.

Frontcourt

The Bucks frontcourt is headlined by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Thon Maker. Antetokounmpo is one of the best players in the league. He is averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. His defense can also be described as elite. The Lakers will have their hands full tonight on both ends of the floor with Antetokounmpo.

Khris Middleton is a very solid player as he is averaging 14.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. He has been deadly from the three-point range, evidence by his 44.7 percentage from that distance. His big body frame allows him to play well down low, which means that Julius Randle will have to be ready to battle. Maker is more of a defensive presence at this point in his career. His length makes it difficult for the opposition to get good looks close to the basket.

Greg Monroe, Mirza Teletovic, and John Henson are solid contributors off the bench for the Bucks. Monroe, who can start for almost any other team, is averaging 11.8 points per game. His big body frame allows him to bully his way toward the basket for easy scoring opportunities. He can not explode offensively if the Lakers want to win this game.

Teletovic is a solid shooter who can spread the floor for his team. He is averaging 6.3 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. Whoever is guarding must make sure not to leave him open because he will take advantage. Henson is more of a defensive center. He only averages 6.9 points per game. He can alter shots close to the basket so the Lakers must find ways to get him away from the basket, so they have a better percentage of making their inside shots.

The Lakers frontcourt of Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, and Ivica Zubac has been solid. Ingram continues his better play as of late. He no longer fears going to basket and absorbing contact. He will have a tough matchup tonight against Antetokounmpo, but it is an opportunity to show that he can play among the best.

The Randle-Zubac combination works better because of Zubac’s ability to step away from the basket and knock down midrange shots. Each player scored career high’s in points in the last two games. They will be needed tonight to produce big because if they do not, it could be a long night for the Lakers.

Larry Nance Jr., Corey Brewer, and Tarik Black come off the bench for the Lakers. None bring sufficient offense, but they do bring hustle and defense. With the Lakers defensive struggles, any defense they can get is helpful.

3 Keys To Victory

Play With Pride

The Lakers have been playing some of their worst basketball in recent weeks, including two straight blowout losses to the Denver Nuggets and the Houston Rockets. There is no reason that they should not be playing hard, but for whatever reason, they do at times. If they continue to do so, some players might not find themselves on the team next year.

More D’Angelo Russell Production

Russell needs to find a way to productive on the court tonight. If he plays anywhere near like he did last game, the Lakers will struggle once again. He is too good of a player to have a minimal impact during games. If his shot is not falling for him, he can contribute by playing good defense and setting up teammates for open looks.

Limit Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Impact

If Antetokounmpo can run wild tonight, the Lakers will find themselves in a difficult position. He is going to get his points, but the Lakers must make it tough for him to get those points. Also, the Lakers need to make sure to box him out during rebounds because if he can grab the ball and start a fast-break, the Lakers are in trouble.

Los Angeles Lakers (20-48) Vs. Milwaukee Bucks (33-34)

7:30 P.M. PST, MArch 17, 2017
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN/1330 KWKW (Spanish)

Projected Bucks Starting Lineup:

PG: Matthew Dellavedova
SG: Tony Snell
SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
PF: Khris Middleton
C: Thon Maker

Key Reserves: Greg Monroe, Mirza Teletovic, John Henson, Jason Terry, and Malcolm Brogdon

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Nick Young
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Julius Randle
C: Ivica Zubac

Key Reserves: D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr., Corey Brewer, Tarik Black