by Nick Hamilton (@NickHamiltonLA)/ (@NitefallMedia)
EL SEGUNDO, CA — The Los Angeles Lakers have won two straight against the New Orleans Pelicans on the road and the Philadelphia Sixers at home, and now face a tough test against the leagues best team the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night and the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon.
The last time the Lakers faced Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, they lost 111-104 back on December 19 in Milwaukee. The Bucks come into Staples Center with the leagues best defense and record. Not only do they the Lakers have to be concerned about Antetokounmpo, the 101 defensive rating is four points better than the second ranked team in the league in the Raptors, and about five points better than the third ranked Lakers defense.
“I think what a lot of people are misunderstanding of how great Giannis is, is that team they put together over there,” Lebron James said. “They [Bucks] put that team together around him that fits his attributes perfectly. It allows him to get space because they keep so many shooters out on the floor at the same time, it allows him to get down hill because you have to stop him at the point of attack.”
The highly intelligent Lakers coaching staff surely paid attention to the Miami Heat blueprint on how to contain Antetokounmpo who continues to struggle from the mid-range and force the ball out of his hands. The Lakers defense can force the shooters to rush shots as the Lakers can get out on transition to score buckets. Regardless it will be a tough test, however the Lakers being at home could provide a much needed significant win.
The Lakers are on the road to a Clippers team that is clicking on all cylinders and have won six straight games fully loaded. This healthy Clippers team have only played together healthy ten times this season and are a perfect 10-0. The Clippers have defeated the Lakers twice this season, and have proven to have defensively manhandled any team in their path. The task for the Lakers is to not only get a win on Sunday but get a mental victory and confidence that they can defeat this juggernaut known as the Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers.
The Lakers have an unstoppable force in James and Anthony Davis who have played like not only a Defensive Players of the Year candidate but should be more entrenched in the MVP conversation with Antetokounmpo and James. Davis who nearly seven feet tall plays with the skills of a six foot guard. If Davis plays with that dog in him on Sunday, consider the Lakers the victory especially in the fourth quarter where he can become a force so strong he’ll make medicine sick.