A few times a year Bucks fans get to look at other squads across the Association and realize: “Hey, we’re not the only ones!” One of those times is when the Utah Jazz come to town. If you didn’t understand that analogy, I’ll put it in black and white: the Bucks and Jazz are two of the most mediocre teams in the NBA.
The two teams were also considered two of the most likely to blow things up at the Trade Deadline. The Bucks decided not to deal the expiring contracts of Monta Ellis or Samuel Dalembert and instead acquired J.J. Redick for a package of young talent- all in effort to increase their chances of an 8th seed playoff birth. On the other hand, the Jazz declined to seize their chance at a rebuild, and decided to make yet another run at a one of the Western Conference’s last playoff spots with their big man duo of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.
Does that last paragraph not just scream “mediocrity”? The mindset of the two franchises is shockingly similar, and the amount of success of they have experienced the past few seasons has been underwhelming.
Jazz: Earl Watson, Randy Foye, Marvin Williams, Paul Millsap*, Al Jefferson*
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders
* Both Millsap and Jefferson are recovering from sprained ankles and neither played in Utah’s 98-68 win over the Bobcats on Friday. While both not at 100%, both big men practiced Sunday and are expected to be game time decisions for Monday’s game in Milwaukee. If either of the big men can’t play, expect Derrick Favors to start in place of Millsap and Enes Kanter (who had a monster 23 point, 22 rebound game Friday) to start in place of Jefferson.
The Bucks (29-28) were short handed when they met the Jazz in Salt Lake City almost a month ago, not having Larry Sanders or Luc Richard Mbah a Moute available to due injury. Milwaukee’s lack of interior defense that game is what doomed them from the start, as the Jazz racked up 56 (!) points in the paint in route to a 14 point win.
After playing 15 of their last 20 at home (including a 100-86 win over the Bucks on February 6th), the Jazz now hit a brutal part of their schedule: eight of 11 on the road. Now standing with a 32-27 record — good enough for 7th place in the Western Conference — Utah has lost three of their last four.
Utah is 10-19 on the road this season, while the Bucks are back above .500 on their home floor at 15-14 after Saturday’s 122-114 overtime victory over the Raptors.
“We need to play better on the road. We’re going against four great opponents, starting with Milwaukee (tonight) on their home floor. They’re going to be tough, but we should be up for the task” said Jazz Head Coach Tyrone Corbin.
Great is a very strong word, isn’t it Mr. Corbin?