By Phil Simon
It looks like the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks are heating up. Winners of three straight overall, they continue their
Western Conference road trip with a tilt against the Los Angeles Lakers in the nightcap of TNT’s Tuesday doubleheader. The Bucks won the first two of their four-game road swing by a combined 53 points and go for the season sweep of the Lakers, who they beat 109-102 in Milwaukee back in mid-November, though they failed to cover the 9-point spread.
Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Lakers
Date and Time: Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 10 p.m. ET
Location: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
Opening NBA Odds: (Check Back Later)
Bucks at Lakers TV Coverage: TNT
The Bucks have had their ups and downs this season and right now they’re up. They opened their current road trip with a 137-108 victory over Portland and trounced the Clippers 137-113 on Sunday stretching their winning streak to three with payouts in each game. It’s hard to beat the Bucks when they play like they did against the Clippers. Giannis Antetokounmpo was one of three players to score more than 20 points dropping 28 with 10 rebounds. The Bucks matched a season high point total cashing the OVER in a second straight game and for the fourth time in the past five outings. They improved to 34-21 SU tying Miami for the most wins in the Eastern Conference but they are a less profitable NBA against the spread pick going just 25-30 ATS.
The Lakers welcomed back LeBron James after a brief absence and responded with a big win over the Knicks on Saturday. It’s been a turbulent season for LA and LeBron being out for five games with knee soreness only added to the misery. The Lakers went 1-4 without James and for a while it didn’t look like his return was going to help. The Lakers trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half but rallied behind James’ triple double for the 122-115 overtime victory covering the 5-point closing line for their third straight payout and fourth in five games. They’ve also been buoyed by the return of Anthony Davis, who missed 17 games before returning on the team’s recent road trip. AD scored at least 27 points in his last five games and the Lakers are 3-3 SU and 4-2 ATS since getting back on the court.
Getting the gang back together has helped in the win column. Former NBA first round pick Jrue Holiday has been a big reason for the team’s surge. He missed time last month in the NBA’s safety protocols and the Bucks found out how vulnerable they are without him. Holiday was one of three players to collect a double-double in the win over the Clippers with 27 points and 13 assists. For the season he’s averaging 18.0 points, 6.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds and the Bucks are more efficient with him on the floor. It also helps having Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton on the floor.
The Bucks have a lot of success when the offense clicks and they are playing at a high level to start this road trip. They had a season-high point total in the Portland game and matched that a few nights later against the Clips. They average 112.7 points to rank fourth in the NBA while shooting 36.4 percent from three-point range to place sixth. Milwaukee has yet to lose when scoring at least 120 points in a game going 17-0 with five of those games coming in the last nine outings. The latest surge has the Bucks as a top NBA Finals pick at most sportsbooks.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are getting their star players back with hopes of making a run. A rejuvenated LeBron had 29 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against the Knicks after missing the previous five games. Davis has been pretty good since returning from a 17-game injury stint averaging a double-double with nearly 30 points and 13.2 rebounds over his last five outings. Now, if the Lakers can get Russell Westbrook to join the party they may not have to worry about a postseason spot. They enter the week ninth in the West trailing Denver by 3.5 games for the sixth spot.
Adding Westbrook to a roster that already included former NBA No. 1 draft picks James and Davis, the postseason seemed like a lock at the start of the season. However, it’s been an erratic season for Westbrook and he was benched for the overtime period against the Knicks. The good news is that the Lakers have their big three together. The Knicks game marked just the 17th time the trio played in the same game improving to 10-7 in those matchups.
Bet Bucks at Lakers
They’ve won games than they’ve lost with their celebrated trio on the floor, but the Lakers expected a lot more. They’ve been inconsistent all season, which might have something to do with the injuries, and they’re hoping the reunion leads to better things. I expect them to make a push in the second half as they all get used to each other again. But finding chemistry will take a few games, and chemistry is something the Bucks have, which is why I’m backing the visitors as a NBA hot pick at SugarHouse sportsbook.
NBA Score Prediction: Bucks 112, Lakers 105