Los Angeles Lakers vs Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Milwaukee -9
The Western Conference and Eastern Conference battle it out as LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers head into Fiserv Stadium to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Lakers are coming off a win against the Portland Trailblazers at home Wednesday night while the Bucks beat the NY Knicks on the road 109-103 Wednesday as well.
After beginning the season with a 2-8 record after 10 games, the Lakers have begun to turn their season around a little as they’re now sitting at 8-12 after beating the Blazers. Unfortunately for LA, they have a way to go to make up ground in the Pacific division where they’re in last place and currently seven games behind the Phoenix Suns. Against the spread on the year, the Lakers have gone 8-12 while they’ve split the over/under at 10-10.
No team in the NBA had a more atrocious or disappointing beginning to their season than the Lakers as they would get off to a 2-8 start after their first 10 games. Lately, however, it has gotten far better for the purple and gold with Wednesday night’s victory over the Blazers making them 6-4 over their last 10. One concern for the Lakers is their performance on the road where they’re only 2-6 while they’ve done a far better job at home, splitting 12 contests to go 6-6. Their 8-12 overall record puts them at 13th place in the Western Conference but with 62 games remaining, LA has plenty of time to move up in the standings.
Fortunately, the Lakers still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both of whom are playing well, especially Davis who is having a redemption year thus far by averaging 26.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 2.3 blocks per contest, leading the Lakers in all four categories. For LA, allowing rebounds has been a huge problem thus far as they’re giving up 47 per game to opponents, which makes them second last in the NBA. In addition, they need to improve their three-point shooting significantly because they’re currently shooting only 32.4% from behind the arc, 28th in the league.
Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks have stepped on the gas from the get-go and don’t appear to be slowing down as they’ve got a 15-5 overall record after defeating the Knicks Wednesday night. With about a quarter of the season already completed, the Bucks find themselves at 15-5, first place in the Central Division, and the second-best record in the NBA behind Boston at 18-4. Milwaukee has gone 12-7-1 against the spread on the season thus far while hovering around .500 versus the over/under at 9-11.
The Bucks once again look like one of the elite teams in the NBA through the first quarter of the season where they’re excellent at home at 11-2 so far. A lot of their great record so far can be attributed to opening up the year on a nine-game winning streak before losing to the Atlanta Hawks. On that note, after going 9-1 to start the season, the Bucks are 6-4 over their last 10 contests. Still, a 15-5 record isn’t too shabby when you take into account it’s all been done without their second-best offensive player, Khris Middleton, who will be returning from injury on Friday night against the Lakers.
As the Greek Freak goes, so do the Bucks and Giannis goes hard every single to the tune of 31.3 points, 11.5 boards, and 5.5 assists per game in another possible MVP campaign. So far, Milwaukee’s offense hasn’t gotten into its groove quite yet as they’re middling in many offensive categories except rebounding where they’re first in the NBA with 48.8 a night. Their defense is what shines with a team that holds opponents to 107.4 points a contest, third-best in the league while their 44% field goal percentage allowed is the second-best overall.
Free Pick – Lakers +9
The Lakers are 3-2 against the spread over the last five games between these teams, including 2-0 in Milwaukee. Giannis is an unstoppable force but LeBron and AD will keep it tight enough Friday night for the Bucks to have to claw out a victory. With both teams playing on the same level as of late at 6-4 over their last 10, the Lakers have been slightly better over the last eight, going 6-2 compared to the Bucks at 5-3. The Bucks are the superior team this season but the Lakers will make this enough of a game to cover the nine points. We’re taking the Lakers +9.