It’s the last game of the year and Pau Gasol is expected to play. He attended practice yesterday. Hopefully he can put out double-digit minutes and output some effective play. It’ll be needed.
The Milwaukee Bucks have a few key players that can give the Lakers fits on defense.
One of those players is Khris Middleton. Those who know me, know I have raved about him for a few years since he was in Detroit. He’s a 6’8″ small forward. A solid athlete, he’s very adept at knocking down the perimeter shot, or creating shots with 1-2 dribble moves. Isolation play isn’t key to his game, but he is the shooter the Laker team needs to watch out for. If he gets hot, things get ugly, quickly. How pure of a shooter is he? He shoots 46% from the field, but 45% behind the arc, and 89% at the free throw line. His quick release is tough to defend. In his last 5 games, he’s averaging 19.6 points per game, 7 rebounds per game, and 3 assists a game with just 1.6 turnovers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a mismatch for the entire league. A 6’9″ player with guard-like ball-handling, massive hands, tremendous wingspan, and a post base; he’s a handful in transition. While LeBron James dunks over people, Giannis swifts by defenders efficiently with a surprising floor game. His able to finish well in the paint and push out on the break after a defensive rebound. His skills are still raw, but he’s willing to shoot the 3-point shot when open. His minutes have grown lately and limiting his transition opportunities bodes well for the Laker team.
Larry Sanders is a defensive oriented center that can give the Lakers fits defensively. He has a solid vert., but has incredible timing, wingspan, and lateral quickness on team help rotations. He’s not an offensive threat just yet, but his impact on rebounding and shotblocking helps Milwaukee get out in transition, which is what they want to do.
The team overall has good speed and some players that can impact fast-break points in a hurry. Rebounding, speed, 3-pt. spacing, and a floor game are all there to try to put opponents on their heels defensively
The Lakers, on the other hand, need Nick Young to tone down the intensity just a bit. He’s been facing more double teams of late, forcing more shots in isolation situations, and not always finding the open man. With Xavier Henry out, there’s more responsibility on Young to come out as more of a playmaker. Jodie Meeks has done a solid job. Jordan Farmar is putting in quality minutes. But Nick Young pushing the action for good shots in a halfcourt set would help the team out tremendously. He’s the best isolation player on the team right now. Penetrating the defensive off-the-dribble or through post-entry passing helps maintain the spacing that Mike D’Antoni wants, and Young can step up into being a key cog for the unit.
Pau Gasol can be a facilitator from the mid-post as well. The wing players are all willing to take shots, but they do best under catch and shoot situations, or off-the-ball movement. Gasol has been the guy to find them in those situations best. Allowing Farmar to be more of a scorer also creates the illusion of having three aggressive wing scorers with Gasol as the hub. Jordan Hill will have his hands full going up against Ilyasova and Larry Sanders. His ability to rebound and limit fast break opportunities are sorely needed.
Tonight would be a good game to erase the memories of 2013 with a win. Go Lakeshow.