The Milwaukee Bucks will get their first actual test in three games, as the Utah Jazz come to the Fiserv Forum for the initial game of a back-to-back for Bud’s squad.
Where We’re At
Ah, those shellacking wins were nice, right? Sure, it gets a little boring beating the living tar out of the Chicago Bulls over and over as well as beating the Detroit Pistons nine straight times (13 if you count the Playoffs), but these are the moments we should savor. It wasn’t that long ago the Bucks were on the losing end of that equation, although not to this unbelievable degree I suppose. Either way, Bud’s squad, and Giannis Antetokounmpo in particular, found plenty of easy looks in a 130-115 win against a Pistons team that’s going defense-optional to start the season. Even when the Pistons matched the Bucks paint output on Monday though, Milwaukee’s marksmen stepped up for a 44% night from beyond the arc that gave them a near 30-point cushion by half. I seriously doubt we’ll see anything to that degree in this one against a Jazz squad that’s largely carried over the same roster from last year’s crushing Playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets.
According to the latest injury report, Pat Connaughton and Torrey Craig remain out for this one, while Sam Merrill was upgraded to probable.
As for the Utah Jazz, well, they’ve scuffled a bit like the Bucks in the early going. Their usually stingy defense is ranked in the late teens thus far and they’re only 4-4. Last offseason, they inked both of their seeming franchise cornerstones, Rudy Gobert ($205M... WOWZA) and Donovan Mitchell to long-term extensions that ensures they’ll remain in Utah
until they grow aggrieved for some time. Mitchell is going through a shooting slump from deep to start, at just 32.4% on 9.3 attempts per game, with a 45.3% eFG that’s the worst of his career. I imagine Bud will match Jrue Holiday against Mitchell defensively, allowing Donte DiVincenzo to mark Mike Conley. Watching how Holiday matches up with Mitchell should be a fascinating chess match between two of the offensive and defensive dynamos in the league. Like Milwaukee, the Jazz had the great fortune of falling at the hands of Thibodeau’s revitalized New York Knicks franchise, 112-100 in their last game. Not great. Their 34-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets before that means they’re coming to Milwaukee with something to prove.
If you’re looking for some insight into what type of sets the Jazz may run tonight, here’s a great thread.
THREAD: Will do a deeper dive into Utah's offense once there's more film, but for now this should give an idea of their base offense that Quin Snyder has been running. Pretty much Utah's offense is predicated on which big is trailing. If it's the 5 they'll run a middle/high PNR.— Ryan (@ry_nguyen) January 7, 2021
Joe Ingles is questionable and Derrick Favors is probable on their injury report. Jarrell Brantley and Juwan Morgan are out.
Player to Watch
Rudy Gobert hasn’t seemed to fare particularly well against Giannis in their matchups from my memory. Of course, this disrespectful dunk could be clouding any other memory in my mind. If Quin Snyder opts to match Gobert on Brook, the Jazz center will have to balance trickling too close to the arc to keep Lopez honest with being able to recover into the paint to help defensively.
Game 9: Against the Jazz, the Bucks will....
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