The game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks was a thrilling game that saw a team’s struggles rear its ugly head again.

And no, it wasn’t the Lakers.

Things were mostly in the Bucks’ favor, with their 19-point lead with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter further indicating what was supposed to be a victory. With Los Angeles missing LeBron James, the numbers game was clearly in Milwaukee’s favor (I doubt Patrick Beverley was missed in this game.) and by the time the fourth quarter began, Laker fans were already thinking of who to pin the blame on for this loss.

Then again, maybe a Bucks-Lakers game without James was an omen in itself.


Los Angeles slowly chipped at Milwaukee’s lead, with Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves, and D’Angelo Russell sparking a 26-7 run to send the game into overtime. From there, the Lakers waged a war of attrition with the Bucks, wearing them out in the first and second overtime and leaving the city of Milwaukee in a state of shock.

It was a statement win for Los Angeles, but this game was a statement from the Bucks as well, one they would like to take back. That it happened at home certainly adds salt to Milwaukee’s wounds. Bucks head coach Doc Rivers seems to have brought his penchant for blowing big leads with him to Milwaukee, and that’s something that Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rest of the Bucks weren’t hoping for when they replaced Adrian Griffin with Rivers.

The 2021 NBA title run Milwaukee had seems like an eternity ago (in reality, though, it’s been almost three years) and since then, the Bucks have been unable to return to the NBA Finals due to the lack of consistency and failed efforts to replicate their success once the rest of the NBA caught up to their schemes. It seems that every enhancement Milwaukee tries to bring in solves an issue but comes with another one, and the acquisition of Damian Lillard and bringing in Rivers were no exceptions.

We all know Lillard’s ability to rise up in crunchtime and provide another playmaker for the Bucks, but he tends to be a defensive liability, one that becomes all the more pronounced when his offense runs cold. As was touched on earlier, Rivers penchant for blowing leads in games and series is well-documented, but he remains a head coach and continues to get exposed for his subpar ability to adapt despite the talent on his roster.

Amid all that, the Bucks are a shoo-in for the postseason and they may very well finish as the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Whatever happens after that, however, is a mystery. The remaining 10 games should be the right venue to address all their concerns, but you have to wonder if they can truly be fixed. The NBA Playoffs are a different ballgame and the little things in the regular season can tend to be exponentially greater in the postseason. Closing games becomes all the more important, especially when you have to play opponents more than once.

It’s going to take a lot of convincing for people outside Milwaukee to believe that the Milwaukee Bucks are going to be legitimate NBA title contenders. As it stands, their regular season performances offer some promise, but losses like that to the Los Angeles Lakers raise some questions. Only time will tell, though, whether we will see the same old Bucks or a squad that simply left all their mistakes in the regular season.