Lakers Conclude Grammy Trip in Milwaukee

 

By: Tom Zayas

 

The Lakers are the first team to play the Bucks since Jabari Parker’s injury on Feb. 8th. He finished the season averaging 20.1 points on 16 field goal attempts per game, which partially demonstrates the efficiency with which he’s been playing with this season. A lot of the Bucks’ offense depended on Parker operating in the high post and he performed well at it, shooting a career-best 53% eFG and 36.5% from three. When Parker went down, Beasley came in against Miami and scored 11 points in the 4th quarter, as he is wont to do. I’d suspect Beasley will slide into the starting lineup in Parker’s place, and his scoring ability has the potential to haunt the Lakers all night long. Giannis Antetokounmpo will shoulder more of the burden on offense in Parker’s absence, and get your popcorn ready to see how Brandon Ingram matches up with the Freak. Let’s check out some film to see what the Lakers will be facing on the court in Milwaukee. 

 

Freak in the 1 – 5 Double-High Screen

The Bucks like to run a double-high screen for Antetokounmpo with the point guard and the center setting the screens, which virtually guarantees a mismatch against Giannis’ length and speed. 

Why it Worked: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ridiculous length helps him get around Chriss and to the basket for an and-1. He two steps his way into position from the free throw line, but it’s the double-high screen from Dellevedova and Henson the allows the Freak to create momentum for his long strides toward the basket. The play creates multiple mismatches — as Henson rolls with Bledsoe matched up with him, he’s ready to clean up Giannis’ miss or receive a pocket pass for a dunk. 

How to Adjust: I’m almost certain we’ll see this play from Milwaukee early in the game, so let’s assume that Ingram, Russell, and Black will be defending against it. Ingram should fight over the screens and try to keep up with Giannis from behind.  Russell needs to tag (jump in front of) Henson once he rolls (and contest Dellevedova if kicked to him for 3), and Black should get into Gianni’s body and eliminate his ability to go east-west with each step. All that being said, forcing him one direction and bodying him up without fouling is easier said than done.

I’m fascinated to see if Ingram is able to go over the screens with Giannis, trail him, and contest his shot at the basket from behind. Ingram’s not strong enough yet to be able to defend Giannis with any consistency, but it will be interesting to see whether or not Ingram can show flashes of mitigating elite length and speed in the NBA. 


 

Lengthy Bucks

The Bucks are particularly good at using their length to affect passing lanes. At 9th in the league in steals per game, they disturb passing lanes and create easy transition opportunities.

Why it Worked: Milwaukee is vulnerable against skip passes as their rotations have the tendency to get scrambled in half-court sets, but guards get into trouble when they try to go over the top of the Bucks for skip passes. Devin Booker tries to skip the ball across the defense but waits too long and Greg Monroe obstructs the passing angle with his length. The deflection leads to a transition opportunity, where the Bucks excel at team passing as seen in the clip above. 

How to Adjust: The best options to mitigate the Bucks’ length is to make quick decisions on the skip pass before they can obscure passing angles, make bounce passes, or drag the trapping bigs out to create a passing angle for the short roll. All of these things D’Angelo Russell excels at for his age, but chances are Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams will rack up a few turnovers because of the Bucks’ length. 


 

Interior Passing

Milwaukee is second in the league in paint touch points (16 ppg) behind only Golden State. Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo frequently operate out of the high post, but are also extremely good cutters off-ball and create passing angles for layups — a trait that trickles down to the Bucks’ role players as well. Here’s Greg Monroe delivering an excellent back-door bounce pass to Mirza Teletovic for an and-1 layup.

Why it Worked: T.J. Warren tries to ice the screen from Brogdon, and Teletovic properly reads the back door cut. Monroe delivers an excellent bounce pass that passes Teletovic open, and the Suns’ interior defense isn’t prepared to contest the shot. Whether it’s Monroe, Giannis, Beasley, or Brogdon, the Bucks are an excellent interior passing team who create inside shot opportunities from penetration and cutting off the high post. 

How to Adjust: It will be important for the Lakers to not overplay the perimeter catch, as the Bucks don’t have many quality three-point shooter that you worry about. Teletovic is probably their most consistent shooter, but he’s still capable of beating you back door if you assume that shooting threes is all that he can do. As the Lakers scheme to beat the Bucks, I’d recommend forcing them to beat you from deep on Friday night, as they have limited outside shooting and shot creators without Jabari Parker out of the lineup. Forcing the Bucks into mid to long range jumpers all night will help mitigate the Bucks biggest strengths — fast-break points and points in the paint.