The Milwaukee Bucks travel to face the Utah Jazz where they are hoping to end a 12-game losing streak in Utah, the Bucks have lost 22 of their last 25 games in Salt Lake City. It’s not a place where they like to play but, at least on paper, this should be a game that Jason Kidd’s team have a good chance to win.
The Bucks prepare to face the Jazz after a disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. After a strong run before the All-Star break, Milwaukee have lost three of their last four games. Their game in Utah is the second on a four-game Western road swing. The Bucks, despite some strong form overall, have struggled on the road, their looking to snap a three-game skid away from the Harry Bradley Center.
This is a team dealing with some injuries and looking to adjust the introduction of Michael Carter-Williams at point guard. Jabari Parker and Larry Sanders have been missing in the long-term, and Jared Dudley and O.J. Mayo could both potentially miss the game on Saturday night.
Mayo’s scoring would be missed and the loss of flexibility that Dudley offers hurts also the Bucks, especially playing on back-to-back nights. In their absence, expect Kidd to lean more heavily on a front court led by second year player Giannis Antetokuonmpo. Ersan Ilyasova and Zaza Pachulia are also both in the lineup after missing some time due to injuries.
They’ll have a tough matchup down there when they come up against a Utah team that has won five of their past seven games largely thanks to strong defensive play and some good offensive play in half-court sets around the basket. This team is also dealing with some changes. Alec Burks is a significant piece missing due to injury, and the loss of Enes Kanter’s offensive game on the front court was a big deal.
The big pieces in Utah are Gordan Hayward and Derrick Favors. Hayward averages 19.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, while Favors has 16.0 points and 8.9 rebounds. Rudy Gobert has also been a big part of the picture, taking Kanter’s spot in the starting lineup, he’s averaging 10.8 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game. He can also get on the board scoring 10 an 16 points respectively in his past two games.
The Jazz have been made more dangerous by the emergence of some of their talented younger players like Dante Exum, Trey Burke and Elijah Millsap. They’d probably be competing for a playoff spot if they played in the Eastern conference.
Betting Preview: Milwaukee (+3.5) at Utah
Expect this to be a close, tight game of basketball. Both teams have played pretty good defense and neither has an established floor general. The Bucks have done a pretty good job all season long responding to adversity and it’s probably fair to expect them to come out and play well in a very winnable contest against the Jazz. Even if they are without Mayo and Dudley, Carter-Williams should start settling into his new surroundings.
The Pick: Milwaukee (+3.5) (www.betonline.ag)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 28-21