LeBron James was dancing, smiling, gesturing, kicking and partying in the air on Friday morning, as the Los Angeles Lakers were performing their pre-game ritual shootaround at the center. Team training in El Segundo.
After being beaten Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans for a much needed victory, James and the Lakers came up against an opposition that regularly upset their spirits and upset the smiles all over. the season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the NBA's MVP, with James Harden of Houston, and Milwaukee Bucks are the NBA's top team with 61 games in 82 games.
The Lakers, meanwhile, are the 10th best team in the Western Conference with 61 games. With only 21 games to play, purple and gold can no longer afford home defeats, even against the best team and the best player in the league. .
Antetokounmpo obviously made comparisons with James.
"If you look every year, how he was able to evolve as a player – his physique has obviously evolved, his mental approach has evolved and the franchise has evolved," said James without a shirt Friday about the Bucks star morning in El Segundo.
James added, "I really enjoy seeing someone who gives everything for the game, and I think when you do, the games will automatically give you back."
Antetokounmpo, 24, is ten years younger than James, 34, but the "Greek monster" is a special player who will one day take over the best player on the planet. James, of course, has been hanging on to this crown in recent years and does not seem in a hurry to give up this title.
"It's one of those guys where it's a five-man job," said Luke Walton, Lakers coach, about Antetokounmpo on Friday morning. "He's too good to protect you on your own."
The defense continued to be a source of concern for the Lakers as they desperately attempt to qualify for the playoffs. Since James came back from a major groin injury, the Lakers' defensive score ranks 24th out of 30 teams.
The Bucks, meanwhile, have the best defense rating of the NBA.
Another major problem for the Lakers concerns turnarounds and, in particular, opponents scoring points as a result of LA mistakes. In the last 10 games, when James returned from injury, the Lakers lost 19.1 points to their opponents, who rank 25th in the standings.
Essentially, teams easily get baskets against Los Angeles mistakes and the Lakers simply can not afford to shoot themselves in the foot, knowing that they are already in the hunt for the playoffs.
While Friday's game is crucial for the Lakers to remain in the playoff race, the Lakers' best chance of qualifying for the playoffs would require the team to gain momentum. A win against Buck would certainly not hurt El Segundo.
After the Bucks on Friday night, the Lakers will face the Suns in Phoenix in a game that the LA should win Saturday night, before returning home to face tough tests against the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics.
A five-game road trip follows the match against Boston. Winning at home, regardless of opposition, is therefore of utmost importance for the Lakers team, which has three play-offs in the West.
A win against Milwaukee on Friday night may not be enough to bring the Lakers back to the playoffs, but a win against the best NBA team would certainly allow the team to gain ground and gain confidence in it before a crucial step of the season.
In addition, Antetokounmpo face James alone is worth the price of admission, because we can not help thinking that a torch is passing.
RemarksWalton said he started with the same starters as in the last game, which helped Rajon Rondo get back into the starting lineup. Lance Stephenson was limited in his move, but Walton said he would rely on his medical staff to make the decision regarding Stephenson's involvement on Friday night. Lonzo Ball, who was to be assessed Thursday and will return soon, will be re-evaluated for an ankle injury and a bruise at the bone in a week, the team said Thursday.