Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Bucks Look to Shock the World (ESPN) in Match Up Against Jazz


The Bucks had no answer for Jazz big man Derrick Favors in their Jan 2nd meeting

In what seems like a new all-time low, the Milwaukee Bucks (11-47) are a heavy underdog in Monday night’s match up against the Utah Jazz (21-38). In what I’m sure was a very tightly regulated and by the book poll, only 0.7% of ESPN’s voting audience believed the Bucks will win this one at 11:15 AM Monday morning.

Although this number has risen to 0.9% at the time that this was written, the nation’s belief that the Bucks could play this game against the Jazz 100 times and MAYBE win ONE time is quite disheartening. Just imagine Herb Kohl doing his best Herb Brooks impression pregame:

If we played ‘em a hundred times, they might win ninety-nine.
But not this game. Not tonight.
Tonight, we shoot with ‘em
Tonight, we run with ‘em, and we shut them down because we can!
Tonight, we are the greatest basketball team in the world.
You were born to be basketball players — every one of ya.
*Looks at Ekpe Udoh who’s reading his book-club novel*
Even you Udoh!

I’ll spare you the rest of my drawn out charade and just emphasize that even though ESPN’s voting audience thinks the Bucks stand no chance Monday night, the Bucks winning would not be a “miracle on hardwood flooring”.

Despite the Bucks only winning one out of their four games since making their trade deadline acquisitions of Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien, they have played noticeably better, particularly on the offensive end. Two of those four games were hard fought battles against the East’s elite Indiana Pacers and the other loss came against a much improved Brooklyn Nets squad that holds a record of 18-8 in the new year. The new look Bucks seem to have a refreshing sense of resiliency that the pre-deadline team simply did not possess and that should lead to many close contests in the team’s remaining 24 games.

What’s there to know about the Utah Jazz?

- The Jazz are 10-13 since their January 2nd 96-87 defeat of the Bucks. In that particular contest, the Bucks had no answer for Jazz center Derrick Favors as he posted a double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

- Speaking of Utah Jazz big men, the team boasts a plethora of big, physical power forwards and centers. One guy who will most definitely stand out (if he sees the court) is rookie center Rudy Gobert. Standing at 7’1″ and touting an unheard of 7’9″ wingspan, the Frenchman is an impressive, albeit raw, athletic freak who the Jazz hope continues to grow in his basketball abilities. Check out this game he put together in the preseason.

- The key to the Jazz’s improvement throughout the season (they started out 1-14) has been the stellar play of the 9th overall pick in this year’s draft, Trey Burke. The 6’1″ point guard out of Michigan has proved doubters wrong and shown that he belongs in the NBA. He overcame some early season injury problems to lead this team to some respectable play. On the season, he is  averaging 12.4 points per game, 5.4 assists per game, and 3.2 rebounds per game.

Fun Facts

- Utah has won 14 of their last 17 games played against the Bucks including five of the last six in the series.

- Jazz guard Diante Garrett is from Milwaukee. His dad also has ties to the city as he played for the Bucks during the 1973-74 season.

- Brandon Knight has quietly been very productive after an injury dampened start to the year, averaging 20.1 ppg, 5.7 apg, and 3.7 rpg over his last 32 games with the Bucks.

Projected Starters

Jazz

C — Derrick Favors

PF — Marvin Williams

SF — Richard Jefferson

SG — Gordon Hayward

PG — Trey Burke

Bucks

C — Zaza Pachulia

PF — Ersan Ilyasova

SF — Khris Middleton

SG — Nate Wolters

PG — Brandon Knight

Injury Report

Jazz

- None

Bucks

- Carlos Delfino (post surgery, right foot) – OUT

- Larry Sanders (fractured orbital bone) – OUT

- Ekpe Udoh (right knee swelling) – QUESTIONABLE

Jan. 2 Highlights

Tags: Brandon Knight Featured Game Preview Milwaukee Bucks Popular