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Milwaukee vs. Utah: Bucks Get Waxed in Utah...Again

When will the Bucks finally win in Utah? Not last night.

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks will have to wait another year to break their losing streak in Utah as they fell to the Jazz 129-115 on Friday night.

What We Learned

Jrue Holiday...he’s pretty important! Milwaukee’s defense has been all out of sorts since he has been out due to health and safety protocols, and don’t look now, but Holiday’s MVP stock has soared in the last few days.

Bryn Forbes and Donte DiVincenzo have been asked to do a lot defensively, and while Donte has held his own at times during the road trip, he has made many unnecessary gambles on that end of the floor that has led to easy looks from deep. We know Bryn is not a good defender, but the way he was getting exposed defensively stuck out like a sore thumb last night. The Bucks will be fine when Holiday returns, but it’s going to feel like a LONG week or two until he does.

Three Observations

The Jazz got whatever they wanted defensively and even the shots that were heavily contested went was one of those nights. But then again, this sort of game is what we have seen whenever the Bucks play in Utah. The way Utah was zipping the ball around the floor was impressive and each player made a concerted effort at getting everyone involved. They passed the rock around so much it was almost like none of them wanted to take the shot because they were toying with the Bucks defense. Donovan Mitchell’s penetration led to an abundance of kick out passes to open shooters and Jordan Clarkson (25 points) was hitting everything he threw at the basket it seemed. Oh, and Joe Ingles (26 points) made six first-half three-pointers. The Jazz are a great offensive team and they present the perfect storm for the Bucks...let’s be thankful they are in the West.

By all means, the Bucks had MANY opportunities to get themselves right back into the game, but couldn’t get the lead down to less than 10 points. The Jazz began to pull away before the half even though Milwaukee created multiple turnovers...but they could not capitalize on them. It was more of the same in the fourth quarter when the Bucks were trying to rally from 19 points down. They got the lead down to 10 but continued to turn the ball over and miss free throws while Utah would go right back down the floor and score. Utah is one of the toughest places to play in the NBA and for obvious reasons (even without a full crowd). It still doesn’t change how frustrating it was to see the Bucks continuously harm themselves with self-inflicted wounds. While they only committed 10 turnovers they missed eight free throws and had only 17 assists. There was not a lot of movement offensively, so credit to the Jazz for being aggressive and never allowing the Bucks to get into a rhythm.

Utah did a great job at neutralizing both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. In fact, Giannis had only two points at the half but was contributing facilitating offensively. He typically flourishes against the Jazz, and while his 29/15/6/2/2 line looks great on paper, nothing came easy. The Bucks ran a lot of action between Giannis and Brook Lopez to try and manufacture some space but it just wasn’t happening on Friday. As for Khris Middleton, he has also had to shoulder the load defensively the last two games. Chasing Devin Booker and Donovan Mitchell in back-to-back games will definitely wear you out. Middleton scored 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting and had to fight for every basket.

Bonus Bucks

  • Brook Lopez poured in 23 points and was able to stop some of the bleeding in the first half by hitting jumpers and working in the post. However, he was caught in no mans land multiple times defensively and was getting roasted. With the Bucks going way from the drop coverage, it’s going to take time for him to adjust.
  • Donte DiVincenzo played adequately defensively but continued to be putrid on the offensive end. I will never understand his over-aggressiveness offensively...why?
  • Did D.J. Augustin forget how to play basketball? He was awful in 30 minutes...whether it was losing his assignment defensively or driving to the basket with nowhere to go and chucking up a prayer at the basket. We know he is capable of more but watching him post up continuous duds is concerning. Oddly enough, he finished plus-four which is very misleading.
  • Has there ever been a shot that Bobby Portis doesn’t like? I love the quick trigger, but he does get a little too selfish offensively for my taste. Sure, the shots are falling now, but are we really expecting him to shoot it at this high of a clip throughout the season? Nonetheless, the Bucks needed all the points they could get so they will take the 15 he added.
  • I thought the officiating in this game was horrendous...and the Jazz did flop a lot. Did Utah really play aggressive enough to earn 38 free throws? I don’t think so. There were countless possessions where Giannis got hacked on his way to the rim...but nothing. Oh well, what else is new?!

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