The only loss for the Milwaukee Bucks in the last 12 games came on the road at the hands of the Utah Jazz. Now Milwaukee has a chance to exact revenge when it hosts Utah on Monday night.
Few teams are hotter than the Bucks at the moment. Milwaukee has run off seven straight victories since falling to the Jazz, 103-100, on Nov. 8, when Bojan Bogdanovic beat the buzzer with an open corner 3-pointer.
The Bucks are finding success by smothering teams with their potent offense and tenacious defense. Milwaukee is averaging 119.9 points per contest in November. On the other end, the Bucks have posted a 100.3 defensive rating. They are allowing just 38.7 points in the paint per game, forcing opponents to settle for tougher shots away from the basket.
“It’s such a two-way sport — offense takes care of the defense, defense takes care of the offense,” guard Wesley Matthews said.
One area of improvement Milwaukee is seeking is slamming the door late in games instead of letting teams hang around. The Bucks managed to do that in a 104-90 win over Detroit on Saturday, using a 17-3 run at the start of the fourth quarter to pull away from the Pistons.
“We’re definitely getting better, but we can be a lot better and a little bit more careful,” said forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who registered his 16th straight double-double to open the season after tallying 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Utah is in a similar situation with learning how to close out games better. The Jazz have reeled off three straight victories after beating Golden State and New Orleans on back-to-back nights at home. In both games, however, Utah blew double-digit leads in the second half and faced some tense moments late in the fourth quarter before finally securing wins.
The Jazz held off the Pelicans 128-120 on Saturday without Rudy Gobert in the lineup. Gobert was sidelined with an ankle injury he suffered a day earlier against the Warriors. In his absence, Utah turned to a fast starting offense to be the difference maker.
Donovan Mitchell scored a season-high 37 points on 12-for-26 shooting (including a season high six 3-pointers) to go with seven rebounds and five assists. Bogdanovic added 28 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Their hot shooting helped the Jazz open the game on a 14-0 run and score a season-best 44 points in the first quarter.
“The biggest thing we took away from last game was just being able to come out with a hot start,” Mitchell said. “Obviously, on a back-to-back you get a little fatigued in the second half. They started making shots. For us to withstand what we did without Rudy, I think it says a lot.”
Tony Bradley made his first career start in place of Gobert and did enough to keep Utah from feeling the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year’s absence too much. Bradley posted season highs of 14 points (on 7-for-8 shooting) and nine rebounds.
“Defensively, he did a great job protecting the paint, blocking some shots,” Bogandovic said of Bradley’s first start. “And then, offensively, he’s capable of getting a double-double every single game.”
–Field Level Media