The scoring chase is over, leaving LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers (25-30, 13-13 home) back to the business of trying to get into the playoff picture.
It won’t be easy, as the red-hot Milwaukee Bucks (37-17, 14-12 away) come to town. The Bucks have ripped off eight straight wins and will be well-rested for the second and final matchup this season. LA took the first meeting 133-129 in early December.
The Lakers are five games under .500 and need to get on a winning track quickly if they have any hopes of making a playoff run. The Bucks are one of the favorites to win it all and have been above average-on the road.
It all gets underway Thursday (Feb 9) at 10 pm ET from crypto.com Arena. You can watch the game live on TNT.
The Los Angeles Lakers (25-30, 25-28-2ATS) have lost two consecutive games. They fell to the New Orleans Pelicans 131-126 and the Oklahoma City Thunder 133-130. LeBron James needed 36 points to beat Kareem Abdul Jabbar's record for the most NBA points. James scored 38 points against the Thunder, but the Lakers disappointed their fans and came up short as seven-point favorites at home.
LeBron was 13-for-20 from the field and 8-for-10 at the foul line against OKC. Russell Westbrook scored 27 points off the bench and added eight assists and seven rebounds. The Lakers shot 57.6% from the field, going 14-for-31 from deep. However, they turned the ball over 21 times. Their defense was also terrible again, with OKC going 17-for-34 from downtown and posting a fantastic 32/13 assist-to-turnover ratio. The only way they will beat the Bucks will be to limit turnovers and turn up the defense.
As of late, the Milwaukee Bucks have been unstoppable. They improved to 37-17 SU, 29-22-3 ATS and defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 127-108 as 4.5-point road favorites. The Bucks were wire-to-wire leading with 54.0% of field goals made. The Trail Blazers shot 40.7% from the field (9-for-36) from deep. The Bucks allowed only one offensive rebound to Portland and outrebounded the Blazers 55-28.
Brook Lopez scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds. He was 9-for-12 from behind the arc and 7-for-9 at the foul line. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 24 points and had 13 boards and eight assists. Jrue Holiday contributed 20 points and eight assists.
If the Bucks continue to shoot at a torrid pace, they should cover this spread easily.
The Lakers beat Milwaukee in Milwaukee back on December 2nd, beating the Bucks 133-129. I would not take much away from that game as it took place over two months ago and both teams are playing on entirely different levels than they were.
The Bucks remain one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They rank third in the league in defensive rating (110.7 points per 100 possessions), opposing 2-point percentage (51.4%), and opposing 3-point percentage (34.6%). On the other side of the ball, the Bucks are 21st in the NBA in offensive rating (113.4), 14th in 2-point percentage (54.5%), and 16th in 3-point percentage. Milwaukee makes 14.2 triples per game (5th). Defense is the key to Milwaukee being a favorite to win it all.
The Lakers rank 18th in the league in adjusted offensive efficiency, tallying 113.7 points per 100 possessions. They are ninth in 2-point percentage (55.9%) and 26th in 3-point percentage (33.8%). However, the Lakers are yielding 115.0 points per 100 possessions (tied-20th in the NBA) on 55.2% shooting from inside the arc (17th) and 34.8% from downtown (4th). Defense and a lack of productivity on offense is why the Lakers are struggling right now.
This game is between two entirely different teams headed in opposite directions. You have the Bucks, who rely on defense and that defense makes it so that even on an off-shooting night, they will stay in the game. The Lakers are too inconsistent to bet in this game. I also think the 5.5-point spread is great value for this game, and I will give the -5.5 and bet on the Bucks in this one.
The over/under in this game sits at 238.5. I am betting the under here, as I believe the Bucks defense will keep the lakers at around 110 points. I am much more confident in a bet on the Bucks -5.5 than on this over/under, though.
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