Better Call Gasol
After missing a couple of games with a respiratory infection, Pau Gasol will make his return tonight for the Lakers, and it will be welcome against the Bucks. Milwaukee struggles against big men, and even with the return of Larry Sanders, Gasol should be too much to handle for the Milwaukee front line.
John Henson is out for tonight, which will damage the interior defense for Milwaukee despite Sanders’ return. Although Sanders has been playing well, it has been in limited minutes so far. Even though his impact is felt more on the defensive end, his offensive rebounding should be huge for the score of this game if he gets more minutes.
Speaking if the score, while I do think the Bucks could have some value tonight, I am more focused on the total set at 202 by online sportsbooks. These two teams are some of the purest examples of the NBA’s lack of defense, and I think it will show up tonight in the final score.
With Gasol back in the lineup, the Lakers should have some easy baskets tonight, and on the flip side, LA should struggle defending both Brandon Knight and OJ Mayo. Opposing point guards have killed the Lakers all season, and Mayo too will want to make a splash in his return to LA where he played his college ball.
The Sharp Pick
The Lakers are much better defensively at home than they are on the road, however they are still giving up over 100 points per game when playing at Staples Center. While the Bucks have had some issues scoring the ball, they haven’t been bad over their last five games. During those games, despite going 1-4 SU, Milwaukee still averaged 105 points per game during that stretch, while giving up well over 110 points per game to their opponents.
The Lakers have also been hemorrhaging points over their last five games. Opponents have scored an average of 107 points per game against the Lakers in their last five games, including 111 points given up to the Sixers in LA the other night.
I expect a very fast paced game tonight, and for both teams to not waste any clock time. I doubt we see too many possessions in this game where the shot clock gets down to less than 10 seconds. The Lakers play at the 3rd fastest pace of any NBA team, averaging almost 100 possessions per game this season. While their offensive efficiency could be a lot better, lucky for us the team they are playing isn’t great either.
Both teams rank in the bottom third of the league in defensive efficiency, and with how bad both have been playing on the defensive end recently, it would surprise me to see a score not well into the 200s tonight. Help welcome in the New Year by adding the over to your NBA Picks.
My Pick: OVER 202