Bucks’ Upcoming – Utah Jazz
The Milwaukee Bucks get a second chance against the Utah Jazz in what will be the last match-up of the regular season between the two teams. Both teams have been performing well as of late, but that was not the case when they met on November 29th in Utah. Andrew Bogut missed a stretch of games that included the Jazz match-up, and the Bucks lost 109-88. Milwaukee shot a miserable 34% and were out-rebounded by 22, all things directly associated from the absence of Bogut. Brandon Jennings took on the heavy scoring load, putting up 20 shots but only hitting 8. An overall tough performance compounded by a number of injuries to the team.
When the teams meet at the Bradley Center, Utah will get to deal with a Bogut that is coming off one of the best stretches of his career. Since returning from injury, Bogut has averaged 20 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks in 6 games. The Bucks are 4-2 in those games, with the two losses being at home to LeBron and the Heat, and the buzzer-beater loss at San Antonio. A new chapter hasn’t quite opened on the season, but it might be close. If the rest of the season fizzles out, this stretch of games won’t mean anything. But if a surge leads this team back to the playoffs, this current stretch of games will be the reason.
As for the key match-ups, this game has a few great ones. Things could shift one way or the other based on what could be called the Bucks’ “flex rotation.” The team knows that on any given night, coach Scott Skiles could rob you of your playing time if it’s not being put to good use. In the last game Corey Maggette made a bad decision and was subbed-out immediately, getting less than 5 total minutes. Keyon Dooling and Chris Douglas-Roberts also got their first starts of the season in that game as rewards for good performance.
While a lot won’t be decided until closer to the game, what is known is that point guard Jennings will have his hands full against Utah’s Deron Williams. He is one of the best in the league, hands down, and Jennings should keep a notebook in hand while defending Williams. The advantage in the center battle goes to Bogut, who will face off against Al Jefferson. Jefferson has lost some of his effectiveness in recent years, but is still tough and uses his weight appropriately on defense.
Rookie guard/forward Gordon Hayward got the start at shooting guard for Utah’s last game. At 6’7″ he has terrific height and quickness for the shooting guard position, but his body size gives him a huge mismatch issue at small forward. Either Luc Mbah a Moute or Ersan Ilyasova could get that match-up at small forward and would have no problems handing him defensively. If Hayward goes the shooting guard route, Keyon Dooling is a shorter defender but as a veteran, is much, much smarter.
We’re not in the business of predicting scores or results, but if the Bucks of the last 2-3 games shows up to this one against the Utah Jazz, there shouldn’t be any reason the Bucks don’t win.
Milwaukee Brian’s Bucks Report runs from Wednesday-Tuesday and covers all the highlights, all the highs and lows of the 2010-11 Milwaukee Bucks season. Topics can be found at Pocket Doppler – The Wisconsin Sports Blog and Milwaukee Brian Sports