Opportunity knocks: Bucks – Jazz Preview
What to Watch For: Bucks
If Milwaukee’s going to win two games in a row this season, there might never be a better opportunity than the one presented to the team this week. Home games against Utah on Monday and Sacramento on Wednesday. The Bucks haven’t been winning many games of late, but they’ve been playing some of their best basketball of the season, specifically on the offensive end.
Over the past six games (since the All-Star break), the Bucks have an offensive rating of 108.4 and a defensive rating of 110.1 for a net rating of -1.7. This will hardly put a team in playoff contention, but it is a great improvement on the season’s net -9.4 rating. The big 130-110 win over the Sixers is helping to skew the numbers positive a bit, but the team that fell behind by more than 20 points every night seems long gone.
Milwaukee’s reserve unit of Ramon Sessions – OJ Mayo – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Jeff Adrien – John Henson is +17 in 58 minutes (second most by a unit) over the last six games. It seems – 58 games into the season, with new pieces added to the mix – that players are starting to figure out their roles a bit.
What to Watch For: Jazz
The Jazz have shared some similar success with the Bucks of late, having won two of their past six. But Utah seems like a very different team on the road than it does at home. Over the past six games, the Jazz have a net +8.3 rating at home and net -11.3 rating on the road. They’ve been focused on development all season and surely hopes for an improved March from Trey Burke.
The rookie point guard shot just 35% in February and saw his assists per game drop from 6.8 to 4.8 in roughly the same number of minutes. He had a strong December and hasn’t been great since, though he did post 16 points, five assists and four rebounds in a close loss to the Pacers on Sunday.
Time – 7:00 p.m. CST
TV – There will be no televised broadcast of this in Milwaukee.
Radio – 620 WTMJ
Bucks: Carlos Delfino (foot surgery; out), Larry Sanders (face surgery; out)
Jazz: None. (What is with these teams that don’t have injuries in February? What sort of voodoo do they practice? TO WHICH GODS DID THEY SACRIFICE VIRGINS?)
PG Nate Wolters
SG Brandon Knight
SF Khris Middleton
PF Ersan Ilyasova
C Zaza Pachulia
PG Trey Burke
SG Gordon Hayward
SF Richard Jefferson
PF Marvin Williams
C Derrick Favors
Choose the form of the Destroyer: Alec Burks
Shooting guard seems like it should be a deep position, well stocked with talented 6-foot-6 guys who can drive to the basket for vicious dunks as easily as they can catch and shoot a three from above the break. Michael Jordan played the position and you’d think his presence would have inspired anyone with the potential for similar measurements to one day attempt to conquer the NBA with a wide array of skills.
Yet there really aren’t many good shooting guards in the NBA. James Harden is great. Dwyane Wade, Manu Ginobili and Kobe Bryant have put together Hall of Fame careers. After them, the pickings slim quick. DeMar DeRozan. Wes Matthews. Lance Stephenson. Is this your next generation of great shooting guards?
Just as the Bucks have a chance to do some winning this week, the opportunity is there for Burks to become one of the league’s more formidable twos over the next couple of seasons. He’s made improvements as a player this season. He’s drawing more fouls, turning the ball over a little less and remains competent as a 3-point shooter. He’s young, he’s athletic and he’s in a situation where he’ll have a chance to succeed. He’ll be interesting to watch over the next couple of years.
Prediction: Bucks 103 – Jazz 95
Categories: Game Previews