Thursday night’s game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers was a classic example of yet another one of the Lakers’ back-to-back debacles. Once again, Laker fandom is left scratching their heads wondering what happened. Aside from the usual broad critiques that would be made of their performance, lack of defense, giving up a big lead, and fatigue, there lies one major problem that led to the Laker loss. I speak primarily of the battle of the backcourts. On one side of the ball we have Jodie Meeks (who started as the 2 guard due to Metta World Peace’s injury) and Steve Nash, and their opponents, the two fairly talented guards by the names of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings.
Now, my emphasis on the backcourts isn’t to say that the big men didn’t have their fair share of contribution. I simply find it an inexorable truth that the mere presence of Jennings and Ellis enabled Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova to have such productive performances. It really comes down to one component of the Bucks’ backcourt; their ability to drive to the basket. Nash was clearly too old to stop the agility of the young Jennings, and Meeks simply doesn’t have the level of talent to contend with Ellis. This problem for the Lakers led to Ellis and Jennings combing for 38 points and 16 assists.
Although these numbers may not be staggering, the ability of these two guards to get to the rack forced secondary defenders to move away from their designated defensive assignments, which just so happened to be Ilyasova and Sanders. Inevitably, the Lakers were never able to adjust to the enduring force that was the Bucks’ backcourt, which unfortunately led to a loss at time where every win counts, and the looming presence of the 9th and 10th seed creeps ever closer to that cherished 8th spot.