The Milwaukee Bucks are currently atop the NBA with a 34-6 record. The Los Angeles Lakers are just behind Milwaukee with a 31-7 record, which includes one loss to them that ended in a score of 111-104. Even though the Bucks seem to have a better record and have already won against them in the regular season, I see the Lakers winning the battle in a series between the two teams.
One Area Of Reasoning: The December 19 Game
Say what you want about the Lakers-Bucks matchup in December, but I think that Los Angeles was set up for failure right when they walked onto the court. Anthony Davis was playing with a still-recovering right ankle sprain and Kyle Kuzma was out for the game with a left ankle sprain. To have A.D. at only a portion of 100 percent is a bad deal. Davis is one of the more athletic and explosive players in the NBA, and because of his size he had to take his game down a notch to try and protect that ankle that night. Kyle Kuzma also has averaged 12 points and 13.6 rebounds a game this season — which, when added to the final score, would have been enough to beat the Bucks. Sometimes it’s the little, subtle details in basketball, like losing a key role-playing bench player, that matter the most.
Another side note is that the Lakers played in the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee — it was definitely not an L.A. game. Home court advantage could have played a small, yet significant role in the outcome of the game as well.
Main Reason: The Eastern Conference Is Incompetent
When it comes to the Eastern Conference vs. the Western Conference, the talent gap between the two are blatantly obvious. Right now, the only two teams that seem like worthy competition of the Lakers are the Bucks and the Heat — with their newly-emerging talent and chemistry. The worthy competition of the Bucks in the West is all over: From the Clippers and the Lakers in California, to the Nuggets in Denver, and the Rockets and Mavericks in Texas. Competition is everywhere in the West, but it’s hard to say so about the East.
Because of the 82-game schedule, each team plays all of the teams in their division four times collectively (two at home, and two away) and will also play all of the non-division teams in their conference 3-4 times. They will go against all other non-conference teams only twice in a season. Because the Milwaukee Bucks are in the Eastern Conference, they only have to play all of the teams in the West twice — which deceives the whole league with their 34-6 record, as is every Eastern Conference team because they rarely have to play Western Conference teams. In fact, I would argue that if the Lakers were in the East, they would have a better record than the Bucks. L.A.’s depth and talent are both that good!
Ultimately, in a mock NBA Finals, I have the Lakers winning in six games. The Lakers depth just seems like it would over-power the Bucks really fast by wearing them out. If everyone remains healthy, I think that Los Angeles has what it takes to beat the Bucks once in Milwaukee. They just need LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Javale McGee to play a full game of solid defense that is ready for each fast-break, and for Danny Green and Kyle Kuzma to be hot from the three-point line.
Perhaps the most relevant regular-season game, referring to the NBA Finals, will be on March 6th. The Greek Freak and the Bucks will take on the King and the Brow at the Staples Center — which will start at 8:30pm. That will be the ultimate moment of truth for both teams.