It is the clash of the titans on Thursday night on TNT, as the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Milwaukee Bucks. This is definitely a potential NBA Finals preview, as the Lakers and Bucks entered the week with identical records of 24-3. The Bucks started the week on an 18-game winning streak, while the Lakers had won seven in a row. There is no question this is the most anticipated matchup of the season to date. Let’s look at the matchup for Thursday night and NBA picks.
This NBA regular season game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks will be held at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 19, 2019. The game will be nationally televised on TNT.
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The Bucks will have the edge in terms of scheduling for this contest. The Lakers played at Indiana on Tuesday and then had Wednesday off, while the Bucks played at home against Dallas on Monday night and had Tuesday and Wednesday off.
The Lakers were 14-1 in their first 15 road games. They are averaging about 113 points per game which is 8th in the league and they are 2nd in the league in defense, allowing just under 104 points per game.
The Bucks were 13-1 in their first 14 home games. They are leading the league in offense, averaging about 121 points per game, while they are 13th in defense, giving up about 107 points per contest.
Player To Watch
You could pick any one of three players as the key in this game, but for me it has to be Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Bucks. The Lakers have their duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but Giannis is the best player in the league. He is averaging 31 points per game and pulling down 12.8 points per contest. He is playing at an extremely high level and in this game he will want to make a point that he has overtaken LeBron as the league’s top player. It doesn’t hurt that Giannis was the league MVP a year ago. The focus in this game will be on the Los Angeles duo of James and Davis, but it could be that Giannis steals the show on Thursday night.
While Giannis is the player to watch in this one, there is no question that James and Davis are also great players. In fact, when they have been the court together, the Lakers have outscored opponents by 12.2 points per 100 possessions.
Milwaukee has won 7 of the last 10 in this series including each of the last five. The teams played twice last March and Milwaukee won 115-101 at home and 131-120 in Los Angeles. Six of the last ten have gone over the total. The Bucks have also won 7 of the last 10 at home in this series with six of the last ten going over the total.
One factor that I haven’t mentioned so far is that the Bucks will be without starting point guard Eric Bledsoe. He is expected to miss another week due to injury. Milwaukee is still capable of winning without Bledsoe, but I am a little leery to take the Bucks without him in the lineup. I do think that Bledsoe being out will make this a lower scoring game. Both teams have played well on defense and I think this will be a lower scoring game that goes under the total.
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