Montrezl Harrell floater vs Milwaukee

Lakers vs. Bucks, Three Things to Know: March 31, 2021

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

The Lakers (30-17) are set to take on the Milwaukee Bucks (29-17) on Wednesday evening. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.

Below are three things to know in advance of the matchup:

DRUMMOND’S DEBUT
After completing his first practice in purple and gold, new center Andre Drummond confirmed that he will make his debut against Milwaukee, and Frank Vogel confirmed that he’ll start. Drummond couldn’t have sounded much happier about his new situation.

“The level of excitement for me is at an all-time high,” he said. “An incredible feeling … (my teammates) showed me what it means to be a part of Lakers basketball … it’s just been a great experience so far."

Drummond, who hasn’t played in a game since February 12 due to Cleveland’s preference to explore the trade market and play their young players, worked extremely hard to stay in shape, and said he felt “incredible” physically, and that he wasn’t winded at all.

"He looked great … I think our group felt an uptick in energy - someone we know who can help us,” added Vogel. “He had a million steals in one practice. He has exceptional hands in pick and roll defense, post defense, pressuring bigs that are trying to facilitate from the top of the key.”

Drummond, who’s averaged 1.6 steals per 36 minutes in his career, will match up with Brook Lopez, and be asked to help on Giannis Antetokounmpo, as L.A. gets a good test in Drummond’s first game.

DEFENDING GIANNIS
If you’re Frank Vogel, matching up with the Greek Freak is a particular challenge when without your two best options to do so, with AD and LeBron still on the shelf. That leaves Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma as the two most likely bodies to go against him, with Drummond surely asked to help off his man at times to wall off the paint on Giannis drives. Transition defense is always a big ask for the entire team when playing against Antetokounmpo, and that starts right after a shot goes up, albeit limiting opportunities on the offensive glass.

Last season’s MVP’s production this season is right in line with what’s become the norm. His scoring is down just 1.2 points, as he’s taking 1.3 fewer shots, while his rebounds are down 2.1 and his assists up 0.8. The main difference is that he’s playing four additional minutes per game, at 34.0, up from 30.0 last season.

FINDING SOME OFFENSE
While the Lakers have managed to maintain their defensive structure and effectiveness even without LeBron and AD, they’ve struggled to score, and their wins against Cleveland and Orlando were no exceptions. LAL held CLE to 86 points, and ORL to 93, but averaged 98 themselves, while missing a ton of open shots against the Magic in particular.

With that said, Vogel was very pleased with the shot quality the Lakers created against Orlando. They had open look after open look from the perimeter especially, and nothing was going down. That’s the kind of thing a coach will live with, as the math is bound to regress to the mean.

While Drummond said he was concerned first with his defensive impact, his presence can help on offense as well. His strengths come more as a finisher and offensive rebounder, as opposed to a post-up player. He does also offer some opportunities as a high-post passer. With his entrance into the starting lineup, Marc Gasol could play backup 5, with Montrezl Harrell moving to the 4, unless Vogel wants to stick with Trezl at the 5, which would cut into Gasol’s minutes.

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