The Los Angeles Lakers (8-12) visit the Milwaukee Bucks (15-5) on Friday. Action tips off at 7:40 pm ET. Below we continue our NBA odds series with a Lakers-Bucks prediction and pick.
Los Angeles finds itself in 13th place in the Western Conference despite winning three of its last four games. The Lakers are 8-12 against the spread while 50% of their games have gone over. Milwaukee, meanwhile, sits in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference thanks to a three-game win streak. The Bucks are 12-7-1 against the spread while 50% of their games have gone over. This will be the first of two scheduled games between the teams this season. Milwaukee took both games last season.
Here are the Lakers-Bucks NBA odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NBA Odds: Lakers-Bucks Odds
Los Angeles Lakers: +8.5 (-112)
Milwaukee Bucks: -8.5 (-108)
Over: 230.5 (-110)
Under: 230.5 (-110)
Why The Lakers Could Cover The Spread
Los Angeles has continued to slowly but surely climb the ranks of the Western Conference after an abysmal start. Despite sitting in 13th place, the Lakers are just two games back of the eighth seed and 3.5 back of the fourth seed. On paper, LA matches up well with the Bucks. The Lakers are average offensively ranking 14th in scoring and 25th in offensive efficiency. They’ve been much better on defense. Although LA ranks just 18th in points allowed, they have the seventh-best defensive efficiency in the NBA. Their major question mark tonight revolves around their ability to rebound. LA ranks a lowly 19th in rebound differential and is 20th in rebound rate.
The Lakers must make rebounding a priority first and foremost if they want to hang with the Bucks. Milwaukee is an elite rebounding team that ranks in the top three in nearly every rebounding statistic. On paper, the Lakers certainly have the personnel to compete on the glass. Anthony Davis leads the entire league with 12.7 RPG but will need help against a massive Milwaukee frontcourt. LeBron James (8.6 RPG) can be an elite rebounder when he puts his mind to it but will need to be locked in from start to finish. Look for center Thomas Bryant to have an expanded role to help contribute on the glass. Bryant averages a lowly 15 minutes per game but pulls down five rebounds a game in that limited time. His size could be a major X-factor if he’s able to stay out of foul trouble.
Milwaukee is a good but not great offensive team but poses enough of a threat that the Lakers have to score in order to cover. Guards Lonnie Walker IV and Russell Westbrook have to be threats from the perimeter or the Bucks can just pack the paint and focus on stopping Davis down low. Westbrook (15 PPG) and Walker (16.6 PPG) are both capable scorers but they’re going to need some outside shots to fall if LA wants to compete. Neither player shoots greater than 37% from three. LeBron should be in for a big game against Giannis yet again. James averages 28 PPG and has shot 44% from three in 22 career games against the Greek Freak – something to keep in mind when making a Lakers-Bucks prediction.
Why The Bucks Could Cover The Spread
Milwaukee enters tonight’s matchup as a big favorite thanks both to their own success and LA’s struggles. The Bucks are an elite team on both ends of the floor but are most dominant on defense and in the rebounding department. Milwaukee ranks third in points allowed and holds the most efficient defense in the league. On the glass, the Bucks rank second in both rebounding differential and rebound rate.
If Milwaukee wants to cover a hefty spread, they’ll need to get more out of their offense. The Lakers have a competent defense that has the potential to slow down the Bucks’ 16th-ranked offense. Luckily for Milwaukee backers star forward Khris Middleton makes his 2022-23 debut tonight. Middleton has yet to play this season after recovering from injury. He’ll be a welcome addition to a Bucks’ team lacking players who can create their own shot. Giannis raises the floor of all the players around him, as his 31.3 PPG draws a ton of defensive attention. However, outside of guard Jrue Holiday (17.8 PPG), the Bucks don’t have a perimeter player averaging more than 12 points per game. Middleton averaged 20.1 PPG on 44% shooting last season and his ability to create his own shot and assist others (5.4 APG) will be a welcome addition to an already stellar Milwaukee roster.
Final Lakers-Bucks Prediction & Pick
It’s unclear how much Middleton will play in his season debut, but just having him back in the lineup should provide Milwaukee with the spark it needs to handle a middling LA roster.
Final Lakers-Bucks Prediction & Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -8.5 (-108)