The last time the Lakers and Bucks played, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo both sat with injuries the superstars seemingly could have played through. But Los Angeles was clearly headed for the lottery by that point, March 19. Milwaukee had already gained a multi-game advantage over the rest of the league. Caution made sense for that low-stakes matchup.
Tonight’s contest will attract far more attention.
The Lakers (24-4) and Bucks (24-4) carry shining records into the matchup in Milwaukee. Only once in NBA history have teams met with both having records this good this far into the season.
On Jan. 25, 2016, the Warriors (40-4) and Spurs (38-6) set the record. Of course, both teams are in the Western Conference. So, they couldn’t meet in the NBA Finals.
Los Angeles and Milwaukee can.
There were will be numerous roadblocks. Many teams – including the Clippers, 76ers, Rockets, Nuggets, Jazz, Celtics and Raptors – have their own championship dreams. An injury could derail everything.
But it’s rare for teams that have demonstrated an ability to play at such a high level to meet in the regular season. For those teams to be in different conferences is unprecedented.
That doesn’t mean tonight’s game will be special. It’s the NBA regular season. There’s no telling how much each team will care. Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe is out, and Lakers big Anthony Davis is banged up.
Still, this is a special matchup – one we could see again in June.