Anthony Davis is still roughly a week away from returning from a calf injury that has sidelined him since Valentine’s Day and LeBron James’ high ankle sprain is likely to keep him out until the middle of April. That means we’re going to miss out on Giannis Antetokounmpo squaring off against the Lakers’ two MVP candidates for a second time this season unless these teams meet in the NBA Finals.
That will make getting revenge in this rematch a little hollow since L.A. won 113-106 in Milwaukee back on Jan. 21 with both teams at full strength. Bucks at Lakers picks and predictions hinge on whether you think the defending champs can hang with one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams despite their shorthanded state.
Milwaukee has won nearly 80 percent of its home games since Fiserv Forum opened back in 2018 but dropped consecutive games there last week with Boston and New York prevailing on the road. The Lakers rallied from a slow start in that meeting just over two months ago and got 7-for-10 3-point shooting from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to make the difference in that contest. The Bucks will look to get even here by snapping a three-game losing streak that is already the team’s second-longest of the season.
- Los Angeles Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks
- Time/Venue: 10:10 p.m. ET, Staples Center
- TV: ESPN
Bucks Current Form And Sports Betting Results
The Bucks nearly squandered all of a 25-point second-half lead last Wednesday before holding on when the Celtics missed a game-winning three-pointer. They haven’t won since, dropping the rematch on Friday against Boston before losing to New York on Saturday night in a game that Antetokounmpo missed to rest his ailing knee.
Milwaukee opened a six-game Western swing with a 129-105 loss at Staples against the Clippers despite the “Greek Freak” returning with 32 points and six rebounds. Getting back the services of the two-time reigning MVP coincided with Paul George and a host of other Clippers also sitting out, so the visitors actually closed as a one-point favorite.
Bucks at Lakers picks and predictions must identify how the visitors will bounce back in the same building where they were outscored 72-50 in the second half of the lopsided loss. Antetokounmpo helped key a first quarter that saw Milwaukee score 38 points in taking a 12-point first-quarter lead.
Strong Start To Trip Quickly Went South
Things went downhill from there as the Clippers proceeded to shoot 19-for-34 from beyond the arc while also imposing their will on the glass, outrebounding the Bucks 46-32. Milwaukee hit seven of its first 10 3-pointers but shot just 4-for-20 on 3-pointers the rest of the way and are riding that cold streak into this one.
The Bucks will head to Portland after this one for a Friday night contest and will play at suddenly hot Sacramento the next night before closing out this six-game road trip with stops at Golden State and Dallas next week. That makes this one the most winnable contest and is essential to getting back on track. Not traveling in between these games against L.A.’s teams should be vital to a team looking to bounce back since they’ll only have one day between now and next week when they aren’t either playing or traveling.
Jrue Holiday, an L.A. native, took some blame for not helping on the boards more than he did against the Clippers since he plays such a big role as one of the NBA’s top rebounding guards. The Clips excelled on second chances, so look for that to be a point of emphasis against the Lakers.
Lakers Current Form And Betting Results
Following a four-game skid that coincided with James getting his ankle rolled up on against Atlanta on March 20, the Lakers have handled business in a favorite’s role against the Cavaliers and Magic at Staples Center. Unlike Cleveland and Orlando, the teams with the second and third-worst record in the East, they’ll run into a Bucks squad that ranks third before opening April with seven consecutive road games.
One of those contests will come at Staples against the Clippers, but they’ll be headed down to Florida to play the relocated Raptors in Tampa before an NBA Finals rematch with Miami that may feature the return of Davis. They’ll play at Brooklyn, New York and Charlotte before returning home on April 15 as LeBron’s return approaches.
That means Frank Vogel’s team is going to have to do a lot of treading water without their best players against some really tough teams and will likely slid down a few spots in the Western Conference standings, opening Wednesday’s action in fourth position. The Nuggets and Trail Blazers are just one and 1.5 games back respectively, so it wouldn’t be surprising if L.A. winds up in sixth before returning to full strength.
Drummond To Start In First Game With Lakers
Help will arrive in the form of 6-foot-10 center Andre Drummond, who will make his Lakers debut after signing with the team a few days ago after reaching a buyout with the Cavs. Bucks at Lakers picks and predictions will have to take into account whether he can hit the ground running immediately since he’s going to be immediately inserted into the starting lineup, replacing Marc Gasol.
Drummond has played every season of his 10-year career in the Central Division with the Pistons and Cavs so it’s fitting that he’ll debut against a team he knows well in the Bucks. However, he’s playing with new teammates and will look to make his biggest impact on the boards while protecting the paint and dueling with Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez.
Dennis Schroder and Kyle Kuzma have stepped up in L.A.’s recent wins and should continue playing major roles as primary catalysts, while Markieff Morris will look to produce since he’ll remain in the starting lineup, although Montrezl Harrell will undoubtedly cut into Morris’ playing time if he ends up playing major minutes immediately.
Betting Line Analysis
Milwaukee has dropped consecutive games against the Lakers after winning six straight against them from March 2017 to December 2019. Despite James and Davis sitting, it was still strange to see them favored by 8.5 points when lines opened at FanDuel, DraftKings, William Hill, and BetMGM. The Westgate SuperBook opened with the number at eight points but has since moved it to 8.5.
The total opened at 222 at DraftKings and has fluctuated between 222 and 221. FanDuel has the number at 221, while William Hill and the Westgate have settled on 222 entering Wednesday morning. Only one Bucks game has closed with a total lower than 229 since Feb. 8, a span of 23 contests, and that game finished well under the posted total.
Conversely, this number is the highest involving the Lakers since James was injured. The ‘under’ is 6-1 in L.A.’s past seven games. L.A has only been an underdog of more than 8.5 points twice this season and fell in both games in blowout fashion, falling to Utah and Phoenix by a combined 42 points. This will be the most points the Lakers are catching at home all season.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch
With Drummond on board and James and Davis out, it will be interesting to see how the Lakers start this game out. Gasol is still expected to play spot minutes off the bench but he and Morris are likely to start losing playing time and are likely to be most affected when L.A.’s All-Stars return. Milwaukee will soon see Jeff Teague debut as a backup point guard after he was bought out by Orlando following his trade from Boston. It’s unclear whether he’ll debut in this game. Top backup forward Bobby Portis didn’t travel with the Bucks on this trip due to health and safety protocols. Rodions Kurucs, acquired from Houston on March 19, is out with an abdominal strain, so Thanasis Antetokounmpo and two-way rookie Mamadi Diakite could be in for some run. Kostas Antetokounmpo, the second-youngest of the brothers, plays for the Lakers.
Bucks At Lakers Handicapping Notes And Pick
The Lakers have scored 101 or fewer points in five of the last six games and are incorporating Drummond into the fold so it’s likely we’ll see an offensive explosion out of their group. The Bucks are coming off a disappointing contest where they let go of the rope defensively in being outscored in each of the last three quarters and are talking about a renewed commitment to rebounding. Look for a lower-scoring game than a total in the low 220’s projects.