Staying in California, the Milwaukee Bucks are coming off a blowout loss to the Clippers and will be hoping they can take advantage of the LA Lakers' weakened lineup.
After losing LeBron James, the LA Lakers lost 4 games on the trot before picking up crucial victories at home over the weekend. Montrezl Harrell has come up clutch, producing 20.6 points and 9 rebounds in the last 5 games.
He will be hoping to maintain his minutes going forward with the debut of Andre Drummond imminent.
Fixture: Milwaukee Bucks vs LA Lakers | NBA Season 2020-21.
Date & Time: Wednesday, March 31st, 2021; 10:00 PM ET (Thursday, April 1st; 8:30 AM IST).
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Milwaukee Bucks preview
After winning 8 games on the spin, the Milwaukee Bucks stayed true to their inconsistent form this season by losing the last 3 matchups.
Two of those losses came against the Celtics and Clippers, which bring more concern considering they are the caliber of side the Milwaukee Bucks have struggled to overcome in a playoff series in the past few seasons.
Although their offense has looked back to its best recently and sits 5th in the NBA for efficiency, coach Budenholzer will be concerned with the fact that his side allowed 120+ points to both teams.
Nevertheless, the Milwaukee Bucks have looked a more complete team in the past month with Jrue Holiday showing his worth on the defensive end. They will continue to push the 76ers and Nets all the way this year.
The Bucks can hope for an NBA Finals appearance that will cement Giannis Antetokounmpo's success with the franchise.
Key player - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a one-man wrecking machine yet again for the Milwaukee Bucks this season. Since the All-Star break, the Greek is averaging 25.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists and has shot the ball at over 55% from the field.
His recent performances have earned him a few more mentions in the MVP conversation after starting the season weaker than expected. In the current Milwaukee Bucks campaign, Giannis is averaging more assists, steals and blocks than last year and already has more triple-doubles than in any other season with 7.
Milwaukee Bucks predicted lineup
Point Guard - Jrue Holiday | Shooting Guard - Donte DiVincenzo | Small Forward - Khris Middleton | Power Forward - Giannis Antetokounmpo | Center - Brook Lopez
LA Lakers preview
The LA Lakers just can't keep themselves out of the headlines. At the trade deadline, the front office tried to lure Kyle Lowry out of Toronto but refused to meet the Raptors' high asking price before then signing Andre Drummond in the buyout market.
In the latest reports, Dennis Schroder's contract discussions continue to rumble on with the point guard reportedly turning down a 4-year, $84m deal.
Nevertheless, the LA Lakers still look favorites to come out of the West in the playoffs. By that point, AD and LeBron will be back to combine with Drummond and form a powerhouse trio.
Drummond's arrival will inevitably drop Gasol to the bench with Montrezl Harrell's minutes possibly getting split between center and power forward. Without their stars, the LA Lakers have just about held onto the fourth seed with two important wins over the Cavs and Magic.
The Lakers, though, will be eager to get Drummond on the court as soon as possible.
Key player - Dennis Schroder
Dennis Schroder is the Lakers' leader on both ends of the court without LeBron. Since James has been on the sidelines, the German has averaged 19.6 points, 6.8 assists and an impressive 2.2 steals per matchup.
Although his future with the franchise is currently uncertain, Schroder will be pivotal to the LA Lakers' playoff chances - just look at how effective Rajon Rondo was last year.
Schroder's defensive qualities have fitted perfectly into the LA Lakers' style of play and helped them maintain their position as the toughest defense in the league.
Of the players who have played the last ten matchups, only Chris Paul ranks higher than Schroder in steals per game and has his lowest career defensive rating since the 2015-16 season.
LA Lakers predicted lineup
Point Guard - Dennis Schroder | Shooting Guard - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | Small Forward - Kyle Kuzma | Power Forward - Markieff Morris | Center - Andre Drummond
Bucks vs Lakers match prediction
Despite their two recent wins, neither opponent of the LA Lakers were of the same caliber as the Milwaukee Bucks. Coach Budenholzer will be looking for a response from his players after a disappointing couple of losses that set back their chase of the top seed in the East.
When the LA Lakers came up against a top-ten offense in the Pelicans, they conceded 128 points, despite their mean defense. They will likely struggle to contain Giannis and co. We are predicting a comfortable win for the Milwaukee Bucks in this one.
Where to watch the Bucks vs Lakers matchup
Given that the game is a marquee matchup, it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN while local coverage will be provided by Spectrum Sportsnet. Fans can also stream it live with an NBA League Pass.