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Los Angeles Lakers

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Los Angeles Lakers: A connection from 1971 to the present

Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks
Getty Images

The 2019-20 NBA season is reaching the peak of the regular season.

With Christmas Day right around the corner, there's a slate of spectacular games that bring out rivalries and showcase some of the league's biggest stars going head-to-head.

Today, we get a preview of that star power in a duel between two of the best teams in the NBA this season in the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

The leaders of each respective conference with records of 24-4 will go at it at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. This meeting will set the barometer for what a championship team looks like this season, and should give us great insight into where each team stands in reaching that regard.

The two teams at hand have ran the NBA to this point and according to NBA stats, they boast the two best net ratings in the league with the Bucks at plus-12.4 and the Lakers at plus-8.7.

They are also the two of the best defensive teams in the league in terms of defensive rating, as Milwaukee's 102.0 defensive rating just edges the Lakers at 103.2.

Head coach Mike Budenholzer's squad plays with the fastest pace in the NBA at 105.5 possessions per game, making them a nightmare in transition with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in the drivers seat of that vehicle moving at full throttle.

Head coach Frank Vogel's team is a bit more tame, playing at a pace of 100.3 possessions per game, utilizing the unique intelligence of LeBron James to maximize the skillset of their one-of-a-kind big man Anthony Davis.

MORE: Who has the edge in head-to-head matchups between LeBron and Giannis?

Yes, the matchup between LeBron and Giannis is what grabs the attention of this contest, but this has an eerily similar feeling to Lakers-Bucks matchups in the NBA history books. See for yourself.

A trip to the past history of Bucks-Lakers

There are many times where looking back in the past allows us to find scenarios that are strikingly similar to the present.

This matchup between two dominant teams and generationally talented players is something that draws a direct comparison to these same two teams 48 years ago!

Let's take a look back to the 1971-72 season.

  • The Bucks and Lakers are the NBA's two best teams at 24-4. In 1971-72, they were also the two best teams with the Lakers at 25-3 and the Bucks at 24-4.
  • This year, Milwaukee averages the most points per game while the Lakers allow the second-least. 48 years ago, L.A. scored the most points and the Bucks allowed the least points.
  • Today, Milwaukee has a young player (25 years old) who is coming off of his breakout year earning the MVP. 48 years ago, the Bucks had a young player in 24-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who had his first explosive season and earned the league MVP.
  • This year's Lakers have a 35-year-old legend playing at an unfathomably high level in LeBron James. The 1971-72 Lakers also played with a 35-year-old legend defying father time in Wilt Chamberlain.
  • L.A. has the league's top assist man in both scenarios with LeBron and Jerry West.

This connection is so identical that it could leave you thinking the NBA is scripted. If not for the Bucks and Lakers losses suffered at the beginning of the week against the Mavericks and the Pacers, respectively, these two teams would have put historical streaks on the line in this head-to-head meeting.

The Bucks could have been on a 19-game win streak trying to match their franchise-best 20-game win streak back in the 1970-71 season.

The Lakers could have been on a 15-game road win streak trying to match their franchise-best 17-game road win streak back in 1971-72.

Both streaks came up just short, but history still certainly has a way of repeating itself.

The similarities between these two legendary teams are uncanny, but how did their seasons finish?

The Lakers went 69-13 and finished as the champions of the league and defeated the Bucks, who also finished 69-13 that season, in the Western Conference Finals back when Milwaukee was in the West.

Will they face off again this year? Well, now, we know the only possibility of that is in The Finals.

Only time will tell.

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