I still can’t believe the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers played on New Year’s Eve, at 9:30 (CST). That was crazy, right? I’m not going to lie, I caught maybe three minutes of that game, non-consecutively. Cool for the Bucks that they won, but I hope that’s the last time Milwaukee plays on a night when ever fewer people care about them than usual.
What to Watch For: Bucks
Larry Sanders! He’s been pretty good since returning. In three games he’s averaged 30.1 minutes 8.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 2 blocks per game. Had he returned and played as poorly as he did all preseason and in his first three games this season, that would have been something of a disaster. He needs a solid stretch of basketball to keep people from getting on his case about missing the last six weeks and his contract extension.
I don’t know what changed for Sanders, but he’s been very active as a finisher and rebounder since returning, which is exactly what the Bucks needed him to do. It’s been fun seeing the good Larry Sanders again and hopefully we’ll get to watch him again.
What to Watch For: Jazz
Gordon Hayward did not receive a contract extension before this season. He was not as lucky as Larry Sanders, despite having played more than 3000 minutes more than Sanders and having started more than half of his games in the NBA. That will make him a restricted free agent this coming off season, which makes this an important season for him. His value will rise considerably with a productive season as Utah’s first option or take a tumble if he can’t produce under the pressure of being option one.
Unfortunately for Hayward, he hasn’t been great. He’s shooting less than 40% from the field and 28% from 3-point land. He isn’t getting to the line quite as often has he did last season either, but he’s been better as a rebounder and distributor. Ultimately, he seems like a guy who is good to have around, but not someone to heavily rely on in a rebuild.
But the season is still fairly early and surely someone like Hayward has the Bucks highlighted on his calendar as a team he needs to play well against. There are only so many opportunities to play bad teams. The Bucks are a bad team.
Time – 8:00 p.m. CST
TV – FS Wisconsin (local)
Radio – 620 WTMJ
Bucks: John Henson (ankle; out), Zaza Pachulia (foot; out), Carlos Delfino (foot surgery; out)
Jazz: none … which blows my mind.
PG Brandon Knight
SG Luke Ridnour
SF Giannis Antetokounmpo
PF Ersan Ilyasova
C Larry Sanders
PG: Trey Burke
SG: Gordon Hayward
SF: Richard Jefferson
PF: Marvin Williams
C: Derrick Favors
Jeremy’s For Recreational Purposes Only Prediction (aka Betsketball)
Line: Jazz -5.5
I protest the results of last game. I was off on both the over/under and the spread, which I attribute to it being New Year’s Eve and me being in a state of pre-drunkenness, which means I was thinking about how my evening was going to go.
At least until the Jazz come to Milwaukee, this really should be Milwaukee’s best opportunity for a two game winning streak. No, the Bucks have not had a two game winning streak this season, which, now that I think about it, means that they haven’t had a winning streak this season, because a streak needs more than one.
Bucks +5.5, over 189.5
Record: 19-21 (7-13 ATS and 12-8 over/under)
Choose the Form of the Destroyer: Richard Jefferson
REVENGE. Much in the way Luc Mbah a Moute came back to Milwaukee and feasted on Milwaukee’s kitten fur soft front line for a healthy meal of rebounds, Jefferson could be looking to even the score for Milwaukee so casually tossing him aside what seems like 10 years ago, but actually was five years ago. Jefferson only played 12.5 minutes per game against the Bucks while on the Golden State Warriors last season. And before that, in San Antonio, even when he played more minutes, he was still in an auxiliary role on the Spurs. He didn’t get much of a chance to wreak havoc like he used to.
Now, in Utah, he’s kind of the man. It’s weird, but it’s purposeful and helps the Jazz build through losses. So he gets 40 minutes sometimes and he’s taking more shots than he has in the past few years. Tonight could be his night to shine against Milwaukee, finally.
At the very least, he’ll probably be all wise and helpful like in the photo above. At least I hope that’ll happen. He’s like a big brother there.