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Bucks vs. Jazz Preview: Milwaukee Continues Western Conference Trip In Utah

2011/2012 NBA Season

2-2 (0-2 road) 2-3 (2-0 home)
January 3, 2012
EnergySolutions Arena
8:00 PM CT
Radio: 1250 WSSP TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG Devin Harris
Stephen Jackson
SG Raja Bell
Carlos Delfino SF Gordon Hayward
Ersan Ilyasova
PF Paul Millsap
Drew Gooden C Al Jefferson

(23rd) 100.2 - OFFENSE - 98.2 (24th)
(1st) 95.5 - DEFENSE - 109.0 (27th)
(5th) 95.0 - PACE - 92.8 (11th)

On the Jazz: SLC Dunk / Salt City Hoops / Salt Lake Tribune

The Bucks continue their 5-game Western Conference trip with the second game of their high-altitude back-to-back, taking on the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. The Jazz will also be playing their second game in as many nights after defeating the Hornets 94-90 Monday night.

Mike Dunleavy sat out last night's game with an illness, but will likely return to the lineup tonight.

Update: According to Charles Gardner's Twitter, Andrew Bogut will miss tonight's game due to personal reasons. Mike Dunleavy will also miss the game due to continued illness and Beno Udrih will not play due to the shoulder contusion he suffered Monday against Denver. Ted Davis says Drew Gooden will get the start at center while Shaun Livingston will get more run as the backup PG.

Last Night's Game Review

Who's Tired? We expected the Bucks to hold a clear advantage over the Nuggets last night, considering Denver was playing for the third night in a row. Instead, it was the Bucks who looked gassed by the end of them game, unable to hit their own shots and unable to corral Ty Lawson as he zoomed around the court. Andrew Bogut was abused by the quicker Al Harrington on both ends and was visibly bothered by his own conditioning--or lack thereof. The Jazz, another team used to playing in the thin air, aren't likely to be affected too much by their recent schedule, especially considering the team's relative youth.

The Fan Favorite Who Never Was. This game will give Bucks fans and staff alike their first real look at the man so many coveted back on draft day: rookie shooting guard Alec Burks. The Jazz have a relatively deep (though not overly imposing) company of guards and swingmen who garner more minutes than Burks, but he's been fairly effective in limited time, shooting almost 60% from the field. Against Denver back on December 28th, Burks was a silver lining for the Jazz in a blowout loss, scoring 15 points in only 10 minutes.

And The Ones Who Actually Were. Meanwhile, the Bucks have yet to get rookie Tobias Harris out on the court as he recovers from a mysterious dehydration issue. Harris is reportedly making progress and could return soon, though it remains to be seen how he will fit into the current player rotation. Of course, Harris has been surprisingly overshadowed by another rookie, as Jon Leuer continued his efficient offensive play in limited time against Denver. Leuer had 8 points on 4-5 shooting in 14 minutes of game action.

Promise On Paper. Here's the ominous streak: the Bucks have lost nine consecutive games in Salt Lake City. Here's the reason to forget that streak: this Jazz team is nothing like the teams of old. Deron Williams' departure and the corresponding influx of young talent has put the Jazz in full rebuilding mode right now, and their numbers reflect that status. Utah is struggling in particular on defense, where Al Jefferson doesn't put up much of a fight and Devin Harris lacks consistent intensity. Andrew Bogut has performed well when matched up against Jefferson, averaging about 14 points on over 60% shooting to go with 3.5 assists in 11 games. Jefferson has shot under 44% against Bogut. Update: As noted above, Andrew Bogut will miss tonight's game for personal reasons.

Don't Forget Defense. The Bucks looked completely out of sorts on offense for large stretches of Monday's game, repeatedly settling for isolation jumpers that barely hit the rim (if at all) and throwing aggressive passes that wound up in the hands of the Nuggets. But something else was going on last night as well: the Bucks were really roughing Denver up on defense. Milwaukee finished with a defensive rating of 95.7, holding the typically efficient Nuggets well below their usual numbers. Denver didn't help itself with somewhat poor shooting at the rim, but however you want to explain it, the Bucks currently own the NBA's best defense.