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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers @ Milwaukee Bucks preview

There are 11 games taking place on a busy Friday night in the NBA and the clash between Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers at the Fiserv Forum in Wisconsin is one of the standout ties.

The Lakers have hit some form after a run of six wins in their last eight games, while the Bucks are riding high in second spot in the Eastern Conference.

What: Los Angeles Lakers @ Milwaukee Bucks
Where: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee
When: 19:40 ET, Friday December 2nd
How to watch: ESPN
Odds: LA Lakers +310, MIL Bucks -390

Ham makes return to Milwaukee

The Lakers opted to part company with championship winning coach Frank Vogel at the end of last season, hiring then Milwaukee assistant Darvin Ham as his replacement.

Ham spent four years as the assistant at the Bucks, helping them win the championship in 2021, and he worked under coach Mike Budenholzer at former team Atlanta Hawks.

The relationship between the two opposing coaches does add a bit more intrigue to this clash and it will be the first time these teams have met since Ham departed Milwaukee for LA at the end of last season.

Is Lakers @ Bucks a potential Finals preview?

Milwaukee won the championship in 2021 and they look genuine contenders in the Eastern Conference yet again, as they currently sit second behind Boston with a 15-5 overall record - the second best in the NBA.

The Bucks should be there or thereabouts but whether or not the Lakers can mount a serious challenge remains to be seen.

The 2020 winners made a terrible start to the new season but six wins in their last eight games - a run that started with a win over Brooklyn Nets - has led to renewed confidence they could be involved in the postseason this year.

The Lakers may be inconsistent but with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on their roster they will always be a threat in a best-of-seven series, so they should perhaps be considered as outsiders at least for the championship this year.

That is reflected in the odds and the Lakers are currently rated at +7000 to go all the way and win the championship, while Milwaukee are on offer at +450.

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More to this game than Giannis vs LeBron

This game sees two of the biggest stars in the NBA face off as Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James go head-to-head. Between them, they have won five championships and six MVP awards and both head into the game in good form.

James has struggled with injury issues this season but he has played in the last four games for the Lakers and has put in some big performances, including a 39-point haul in a 143-139 win over San Antonio Spurs.

The 37-year-old is averaging 25.8 points-per-game, 8.6 rebounds - his highest total since becoming a Laker - and 6.3 assists but surprisingly the Lakers have fared better without him in the team this season.

They are 3-3 in the games he has missed but 8-12 overall, meaning they go into the game in 13th spot in the Western Conference.

Antetokounmpo has played in 17 of the Bucks' 20 games and is averaging a career-high 31.3 points-per-game, 11.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists, and Milwaukee are clearly a different team when he is on court.

Everything goes through the 27-year-old when he is involved, but both teams have other players who can make an impact.

The Lakers decision to bring in Russell Westbrook to form a big three with Davis and James may not have worked out quite as well as they had hoped, but the former MVP has started to have more of an impact as a bench player.

Offseason recruit Patrick Beverley has added a bit of resilience and fight to the team and fellow guard Austin Reaves is also contributing.

The Bucks have their own big three with Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton supporting Antetokounmpo, with Brook Lopez and Grayson Allen also putting in big displays when required.

Home form key for Bucks

The Lakers should be competitive in this game but it is hard to see anything other than a win for Milwaukee. The Bucks have an 11-2 record at their Fiserv Forum home this season and they are yet to lose a home game to a team from the Western Conference.

The Lakers have won their last two road games but both of those wins came against the Spurs, and they are their only victories outside of LA so far this season.

This is a game Milwaukee are expected to win and as such there is a fairly big spread, with Milwaukee priced at -110 with a -8 handicap in the Point Spread and the Lakers -110 with a +8 handicap.

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