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NBA Preview: The Must-See Game of December

The NBA is loaded with action this season, and it finally feels like we have some real parity in the Western Conference.

The Los Angeles Lakers are still leading the conference and are tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the best record in the league, but the LA Clippers are finally starting to show why they were the other favorite to win the 2020 NBA Title when the season opened.

The latest NBA odds still show the Lakers and Clippers to be neck and neck at +300 to win it all. But the Bucks are right behind at +350. The next closest in line jumps to +900 (nine to one) with the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers. Everyone else can be considered longshots.

So what are the must-see NBA games coming up, the games that might give us a bit of insight into how the playoffs could look? There is one coming up next Thursday that we would be remiss to skip.

Lakers vs. Bucks | December 19th at 7 PM ET

This one is coming up next week and it is pivotal to how we look at each conference. The top dogs of each side are going to clash in Milwaukee and we get to see a potential preview of the NBA Finals.

Now it's hard to determine who will win it all based on one game, but it's a chance for us to see this new LA Lakers roster go against this now experienced, young Bucks team that was oh so close last year and the year before. The Greek Freak, Eric Bledsoe, the Lopez brothers, Kyle Korver, Wesley Mathews, etc. Against Lebron James, Danny Green, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, Kyle Kuzma, and Rajon Rondo, etc.

This will be insanely exciting to watch. Since the Lakers are the visiting team, they don't necessarily need to win to prove that they can take the Bucks in a seven-game series. They just need to keep it really close. On the other hand, the Bucks do need to win if they want to throw their hands up and claim that they’re the best team in the league.

Statistical Matchup

Right now the Lakers are putting up some decent offensive numbers. They are finding their groove and have increased their road scoring stats to 114.62 points per game. They are hitting 48.91 percent from the field and dropping threes through the hole at a rate of 38.32 percent, good enough for 3rd in the league.

That said, it has come at the cost of some of their defensive dominance. The Lakers were holding teams to 97 points at home and just 101 or 102 on the road. Now they have slipped to 106.62 on the road. It’s still good enough for the No. 7 road defense in the NBA but it’s a far cry from the defense they running a couple of weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the Bucks have the No. 1 home offense in the league. They net 122.54 points per game and dominate on the boards by grabbing 51.54 rebounds per night. Defensively, they are 12th in the league at home, allowing just a hair more than the Lakers road numbers at 106.92. So, given the fact that they perform similarly on defense in this situation, but the Bucks have a much more potent offense - 8 points better- I would think that the Los Angeles Lakers will head into this game as underdogs.

But that doesn't mean it will work out like that. Matchups are a tricky thing. And when you have guys like Anthony Davis roaming around under the rim, unstoppable scorers like Giannis get slowed down quite a bit. Both Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo have been out, which could explain a little bit of the laps in defense – especially on the part of missing Rondo. But they are both likely to be back at 100 percent by this time.

If the Lakers can utilize Danny Green and Rondo at the same time, they can stifle the Bucks backcourt and put AD on Giannis. Then they would force guys like Brook Lopez who aren't as efficient to pick up the slack with scoring.

This one will be close and is a game that we can't miss because it will allow us to analyze a potential playoff matchup for the NBA Title in 2020.