Lakers vs. Bucks Odds
|Over/Under||221.5 (-110 / -110)|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Los Angeles Lakers look to bounce back after a tough loss to the Bulls as they take on the Milwaukee Bucks. Both of these teams are banged up and limping through the start of the season. Despite this, both the Lakers and the Bucks have the second- and third-highest odds to capture the Larry O’Brien come season’s end.
In a matchup without all of the stars, does one title favorite have an edge over the other?
Los Angeles Lakers Growing Pains With Westbrook
Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that there is “growing optimism” that LeBron James would be able to return on Friday from his abdominal injury; however, that still leaves the Lakers without him for this matchup. The Lakers are also listing Anthony Davis on the injury report as probable (thumb).
The Lakers are going through some growing pains with Russell Westbrook at the helm and they have a -5.0 point differential per 100 possessions, 25th in the league, per Cleaning the Glass. Despite this, they’ve managed to stay above .500, which is important for playoff reasons. But the on-court product leaves much to be desired.
When Westbrook has been on the floor, their point differential dips to -7.1, and without LeBron, it dives even further to -11.1. I’m not blaming the Lakers’ struggles entirely on Westbrook, but he certainly has not been the stop-gap to buoy this Lakers’ offense when LeBron is off the floor.
A critical issue for the Lakers is they have had elite defenses the past few seasons and that simply is not the case this season. Since Davis has joined the Lakers, they have had top-three defenses and had top-10 allowed eFG%, per Cleaning the Glass.
This season? They’re 20th in defense and 23rd in allowed eFG% with an expected allowed eFG% that is worst in the league, per Cleaning the Glass. They’re really struggling on the defensive glass, and it has led to opponents eviscerating them on second-chance points (14.0/game) and in the paint (50.7/game).
Milwaukee Bucks Hoping To Get Healthier
The Bucks have also been hampered by injuries but are hopeful that both Khris Middleton (Personal – Probable) and George Hill (Back – Probable) will be able to play against the Lakers. Middleton has missed the last eight games and so he may see his minutes managed a bit as he returns to action. Brook Lopez still remains out.
Although the Bucks have a -2.4 point differential this season, it’s somewhat excusable considering they’ve been without Jrue Holiday for six games, Middleton for eight and Lopez for 13. Their only player who has started every game this season is Grayson Allen (who has been excellent).
But the Bucks thrive when their Big 3 is on the floor — unfortunately, that’s only been for 46 possessions this season or just 3.5% of their possessions. They are a whopping +43.7 with an eFG% of 61.1% with those three on the floor.
The return of Middleton should help the Bucks’ depth and they can stagger their Big 3 to ensure at least one of them is on the floor. This was effective for them last season and the Bucks were +6.7 points per 100 possessions when at least one of them was on the floor.
Although this has not been as successful this season (-0.9), the Bucks have not consistently been healthy enough this season to properly demonstrate the efficacy of this strategy.
Although the Lakers saw Talen Horton-Tucker return and he’s played extremely well over two games (22.5 points, 5 rebounds, 1.5 assists) he is not enough to turn the tide for this Lakers team. In order for the Lakers to be successful in this matchup, they need Davis to outplay Giannis Antetokounmpo shot for shot while locking him down defensively.
Alternatively, the Lakers could try to take advantage of their size with Lopez out, but all lineups without LeBron but with any duo of Davis, DeAndre Jordan, and Dwight Howard have had negative returns in terms of +/-, per Cleaning the Glass.
The Bucks are a bit healthier at this point if Middleton is active and he would significantly improve their depth.
This line opened with the Bucks as significant favorites, and although it may seem steep, I think we need to lay the points as long as Middleton plays.
Pick: Bucks -7.5 (FoxBet)