If you want a pretty in-depth breakdown of this game, I suggest you listen to the most recent Laker Film Room Podcast. Pete and I went long on the Bucks in our preview pod of the Bucks/Clippers games, so that is definitely worth your time.
Here’s a Cliff’s Notes version, though:
- Build a wall in transition vs. Giannis. The Bucks Centers are “box out” bigs who allow Giannis a bunch of defensive rebounding opportunities. He then grabs-and-go’s a lot, surging into the open court and looking to score quickly. The Bucks lead the league in pace and a lot of that is Giannis getting them into offense early and either scoring or collapsing the defense and then kicking out to shooters, getting the defense to scramble and rotate in the process. The Lakers, then, must slow Giannis in the open court, “turn” him and force him to pull the ball back, and then set up in the half court.
- Offensively, the Lakers can take advantage of the Bucks’ drop scheme in P&R’s, by shooting off the dribble and playing more pick and pop vs. straight up pick and rolls. It’s on LeBron and AD, to understand how the Bucks are going to play them and then be assertive and confident in taking the 3’s the defense will afford them. For Bron, that means off the dribble 3’s when defenders go under screens on him. For AD it will mean on pops after screens or when the ball rotates to him when he’s spotting up.
- LeBron should post up a lot, particularly when not being defended by Giannis, and look to be aggressive as a scorer. If Bron looks to score out of the post, he’ll earn FT’s, get baskets, and force help to come. If he can force help, it will open up his teammates and allow him to impact the game as a passer.
- Vogel’s lineup deployment will be key this game. How much will he go small and how what will those small lineups look like? Will Morris get time at C? Will LeBron? How much will Rondo play? Vogel needs to be aggressive in how he tries to dictate the tenor of the game and a lot of that will come down to defensive personnel and how effective smaller players (like Morris or LeBron) can guard Lopez.
On the Lakers side, everyone should play this game — save new addition Dion Waiters. The Lakers plan to take it slow with Waiters and not force him into the rotation right away.
Enjoy the game, folks. Lakers vs. Bucks is a battle of the team with the two best records in the league, this one means something.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Spectrum SportsNet and ESPN.