Here is what you need to know before the Lakers battle with the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

1) Top two going head-to-head

For the final time in the regular season, the top teams in the West and East will meet on the hardwood.

The Bucks — winners of 53 and losers of only 9 — have topped the standings for the entire season. Their offense, rated fourth in the NBA (112.8), has been excellent, but their league-leading defense (101.0) has been absolutely elite.

Meanwhile, the 47-13 Lakers enter this matchup as the only team in the NBA among the top three in both offense (113.0) and defense (105.8). Along with the opportunity to avenge December’s loss to the Bucks, they would also clinch a playoff spot with victory.


2) MVP moment?

With 22 games left in the season, most would say that the MVP race is headed by two of this game’s stars: LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Lakers fans know what LeBron has brought into his 17th season: world-class passing, age-defying athleticism and an incalculable leadership quality. He leads the NBA in assists (10.7) by a wide margin and has had enough individual takeovers to still rank 12th in scoring (25.4).

Meanwhile, Giannis has been a physical marvel in his quest for back-to-back MVPs. The “Greek Freak” continues to live up to his moniker, placing third in scoring (29.6) and fourth in rebounds (13.8) — as the only player in the top 10 for both categories.


3) Bucks are more than just Giannis

While James has the added firepower of Anthony Davis (37 pts, 13 reb in his last game) and others, Giannis receives similar backing from a group led by Khris Middleton.

Arguably the league’s top shooter this season, Middleton leads the NBA in percentage on jumpers, while ranking in the top 10 from 3-point land, mid-range, the non-restricted paint and the foul line. The two-time All-Star is on pace to become just the 9th member of the 50/40/90 club (FG%/3P%/FT%).

And that’s far from all. Brook Lopez has been an elite rim protector this year. Eric Bledsoe continues to slash to his heart’s desire. George Hill leads the NBA in 3-point percentage (48.7). There’s a reason why the Bucks have outscored their opponents by an absurd, league-leading 12.4 points per game.

Injury Report
Lakers:
Anthony Davis (sore left elbow) and Alex Caruso (sore right hamstring) are probable.

Bucks: George Hill (groin contusion) is questionable. D.J. Wilson (left ankle sprain) is out.

Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet locally, ESPN nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 Tu Liga
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California



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