Milwaukee Bucks have stopped being bad, but can the Lakers, who have won some games this season against really good teams pull off a milder but still significant NBA betting surprise against the Bucks in Milwaukee?
The Los Angeles Lakers Can Win Because…
They are always capable of doing something big on a given night. The Lakers haven’t won many games, but they’ve been right there with a chance to win against quality teams. They have scored some big wins as mentioned above, but they’ve also played the Washington Wizards close (after blowing a 19-point lead to them). They’ve pushed the Memphis Grizzlies. They have tested the Los Angeles Clippers. This team has lost a number of mismatches this season, but it has been more competitive than a 13-35 record might outwardly suggest. One thing to track with the Lakers is that early in the season, they were giving up an average of around 110 points per game. If you’ve been following this team over the course of the season, you have seen that average decline to 108, 107, and now 105.9 points allowed per game. The Lakers have slowly improved on defense, and part of this is that Kobe Bryant, with his frail body, is no longer a part of the starting lineup. The Lakers are quicker on defense without him.
What you also have to realize about this game is that Milwaukee plays games close to the vest. The Bucks have a point differential of just 1.8 points to the good. Moreover, the Bucks are a very average 11-10 on their home court. The Lakers, who have won in Atlanta, San Antonio, and Houston this season, will not be intimidated by the Bucks. They have an excellent chance of being right there in the fourth quarter with a chance to win.
The Milwaukee Bucks Can Win Because…
There is no question that even though they’re in the Eastern Conference and the Lakers are in the West, they’re better than Los Angeles. Milwaukee has twice the number of wins and is on a four-game winning streak, enabling the Bucks to be 6-4 in their last 10 games. Milwaukee really distances itself from the Lakers with its defense. The Bucks are a very good defensive team, not just because they limit opponents to just 96.6 points per game, which is just 0.1 points worse than the East-leading Atlanta Hawks, but because a lot of their defense produces steals which lead to fast breaks and open-court baskets. Milwaukee gets offense from its defense. This is a hidden reason for the Bucks’ success. Jason Kidd turned the Brooklyn Nets into a very effective defensive team last season. He’s brought that same emphasis on defense to the Bucks, and after they held the 106-points-per-game Toronto Raptors to only 75 points in a road win the other night, you can see just how sustainable this defense is.
The Lakers simply cannot defend as well as the Bucks can. Milwaukee will get stops in the key moments and the Lakers will fall short. The Bucks should be able to win this game comfortably, so take them with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Milwaukee at 5Dimes