The two best teams in the NBA square off on Thursday night as the Los Angeles Lakers wrap up a five-game Eastern Conference road trip against the Milwaukee Bucks. Both teams enter the matchup with identical 24-4 records, the best mark in the league. Both teams are coming off losses, with Milwaukee getting it’s 18-game winning streak snapped on Monday night with a 120-116 loss to the Mavericks who were playing without Luka Doncic. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 48 points and 14 rebounds.
The Lakers are trying to rebound after a 105-102 setback against the Pacers on Tuesday night. LeBron James scored 20 points with nine rebounds and nine assists, but missed a step-back 3-pointer in the final seconds that would have given Los Angeles the lead. All-Star forward Anthony Davis missed the game because of a sprained right ankle. Davis is hopeful to suit up on Thursday in Milwaukee. Guard Kyle Kuzma will miss the game with an ankle injury.
ESPN’s FPI gives the Bucks a 71.0% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Thursday’s matchup between the Lakers and Bucks.
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Lakers vs. Bucks Game Details
Date: Thursday, December 18
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Fiserv Forum (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
TV: TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
Spread: Bucks -4
This line opened at Bucks -4.5 and has been bet down slightly to Bucks -4 with the majority of the bets and money coming in on the Lakers. This line is correlated to the action and is moving with the market.
- Lakers are 24-4 SU and 16-12 ATS this season
- Bucks are 24-4 SU and 15-13 ATS this season
- Under is 16-12 in Lakers games this season
- Over is 15-12-1 in Bucks games this season
Analysis & Picks
This could be a preview of the NBA Finals this June. If it is, I will be keeping a close eye on the matchup between Giannis and Anthony Davis. Whoever gets the better of this matchup between the two best big men in the league should come away with the victory. Last season, the Bucks won both matchups against Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans, under very difficult circumstances. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that both teams lost their last game before entering this matchup as this was a clear lookahead spot for both the Lakers and Bucks. Milwaukee has won five straight in this series and I expect them to make it six because of some unsung heroes. Kyle Korver poured in a season-high 17 points and hit five triples in the loss on Monday night against the Mavericks. The Bucks need reliable shot-makers on the outside to make teams pay for double-teaming Giannis in the post, and Korver is the perfect weapon. However, I am concerned about the ball-handling for Milwaukee as Eric Bledsoe is still sidelined with a leg fracture. Meanwhile, the Lakers are underdogs for just the third time this season and are 2-0 SU in their other two times as dogs. I’ll take the points and hope Lebron and AD can keep this game close.
PICK: Lakers +4
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith