Milwaukee Bucks: 3 keys to victory when hosting Los Angeles Lakers

Dec 19, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)
Dec 19, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports) /
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March 6, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
March 6, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) /

It won’t get any easier for the Milwaukee Bucks as they get set to take on the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night at Fiserv Forum.

Coming off a nailbiting 125-123 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night, the Bucks face another stiff test by going up against the reigning champions. It was on the Bucks’ home floor more than a year ago where the Bucks squeaked out a 111-104 win over the Lakers that was thought as an NBA Finals preview at the time.

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Now, they face up against a hungry Lakers team that slipped up late in their shocking 115-113 defeat to the resurgent Golden State Warriors on MLK Day, which saw them drop to 11-4 on the season.

With both the Bucks and Lakers eager to get back in the win column, we should surely see another a thrilling matchup between the two title contenders.

So without further ado, let’s explore the three biggest keys to a Milwaukee Bucks victory when they take on the Los Angeles Lakers later tonight.

First key – Which Milwaukee Bucks player takes on the task of guarding LeBron James?

Fresh off of the gargantuan tasks of trying to slow down past MVP winners in Kevin Durant and James Harden, the Bucks will have attempt to contain one of the best players of all-time in LeBron James.

The four-time NBA champion is off to another strong start as he’s averaging 23.7 points on .479/.375/.719 shooting, 7.9 rebounds and 7.1 assists in his 15 appearances this season as Los Angeles holds the best NBA record at the moment.

Milwaukee’s primary defender on the four-time MVP last season was Wesley Matthews, who subsequently joined the Lakers over the offseason. Per, Matthews matched up on James for 61.5 partial possessions during the Bucks’ two tilts against the Lakers last season.

The Bucks aren’t lacking viable defensive options, whether it be Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday or Khris Middleton. As we saw Monday night, both Holiday and Middleton had their turns guarding Durant, but Holiday largely stuck to checking Harden for obvious reasons. As for Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have continued to stick using him as a help defender.

With James serving as the primary initiator for the Lakers as he has done over his various stops, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Holiday and Middleton take turns guarding James whenever their on the floor. Whether Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer entertains putting Antetokounmpo on the 36-year-old James, that might be a break glass in case of emergency-style option he turns to, depending on the game state.

As the Bucks have their time of taking of NBA title favorites in quick succession, their defense will surely be tested whenever James is on the floor and pulling the strings for the Lakers.