Bucks fans are still feeling the buzz after Saturday’s exhilarating victory over the undefeated Golden State Warriors. It’s tough to describe how big of a win that was for the Bucks, but the entire league was watching as Milwaukee once again ended a winning streak of 12 plus games. The Bucks have now ended the two longest winning streaks in NBA history.
Tonight the Bucks will try and keep that momentum moving forward as they begin their four-game road trip out west as they take on Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Staples Center. Now, one might think that this registers as an easy victory, but not so fast. The Bucks have put out miserable play so far this year on the road, their record being a putrid 2-10. Fans are watching if the win over Golden State can generate traction that helps pull them out of this treacherous hole they find themselves in.
Hot shooting is what ultimately sealed the deal for the Bucks’ upset over the Wizards. Right out of the gates, they were locked in, creating open shots and opportunities and taking advantage of those. The same needs to happen tonight. Los Angeles’ defense is one of the most porous in the league, as their 107.3 points per game is third worst in the league. If Milwaukee takes advantage of that, they should find themselves in a comfortable position.
As for Milwaukee’s defense, things are beginning to weave together nicely. After a disastrous start to the season, the defense is beginning to make strides forward, as they are now situated in the middle of the league in defensive efficiency rather than being in the bottom five. The Bucks also were the first team to hold the Warriors under 100 points. In that Warriors game, Milwaukee did a terrific job at contesting as many shots as possible, which threw Golden State off their game. Hustle was also a key determination in the outcome of the game, as the Bucks seemed to play with an intensity that has been lost for most part of the season. The Bucks won’t be facing a firepower offense like Golden State tonight against the Lakers, but nonetheless, it remains vital for the defense to show consistency and that this stretch of games is not a fluke.
Offense is an asset that has been missing on the Lakers this year. It feels weird to say it considering how dominant some of their past teams have been with Kobe, but given his day and age, that’s the case that’s shaping in Los Angeles. Bryant leads the Lakers in scoring with 16.2 points per game. It will be interesting to see how much coach Byron Scott plays Bryant in the later part of the game, as many Lakers fans are calling for him to be benched so younger players can receive opportunities. Nonetheless, even at his age, Kobe can still provide a spark to offense and must be accounted for at all times. However, if the Bucks defense plays earnestness they did against the Warriors, there shouldn’t be any problem.
This is definitely the most important stretch of games that the Bucks have encountered on their schedule so far this season. After ending the Warriors’ streak on Saturday, the eyes of the NBA are going to be back on this young Milwaukee team to see if they can build off that historic performance. The players are certainly viewing it as an opportunity to do so, as they know how big of a win that was and the potential it holds in resurrecting the games lost in the beginning of the year. So many times the Bucks have put forth lackadaisical efforts, especially on the road. This is a key time for them to finally shake off that mantra and play with the style and grit we know they can provide.