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Utah Jazz look to surprise an improved Milwaukee Bucks squad

The Greek Freak visits Utah while the Stifle Tower is closed for renovations.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz (8-11) look to improve to 8-5 at home as they face off against the Milwaukee Bucks (9-8). Milwaukee has hit a bit of a rough patch over their last 3 games going 1-2; their only win came against Phoenix where Overtime was required. The Utah Jazz are looking to get back into a groove at home after a dominant win against the Chicago Bulls the day before Thanksgiving.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is probable for tonight’s game after fighting soreness in his knee. Giannis has been on an MVP campaign averaging 29.7 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks a game. Giannis is realizing his potential and the Utah Jazz should count themselves lucky that he’s a bit hobbled.

Milwaukee is probably the only team that can match Utah in terms of injuries. Jabari Parker, Giannis, Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, Gary Payton II, and Mirza Teletovic have all lost time due to injuries. Might as well call the Bucks the Jazz of the West.

The Utah Jazz since losing Rudy Gobert have been struggling on the defensive end (save for a couple games against the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic) and will face a challenge when they face Giannis. Giannis is a beast off the dribble when he goes for the paint. Derrick Favors and Ekpe Udoh will have their hands full.

Game Info:

When: November 25, 2017

Where: Vivint SmartHome Arena

TV: ATT SportsNet Rocky Mountain

Radio: 1280 and 97.5 The Zone


Milwaukee Bucks:

Giannis Antetokounmpo - Probable - Knee

Matthew Dellavedova - Questionable - Left Knee Tendinitis

John Henson - Questionable - Eye

Jabari Parker- OUT - Knee

Gary Payton II - Questionable - Ankle

Mirza Teletovic - OUT - Knee

Utah Jazz:

C Rudy Gobert – OUT (Knee) 4-5 weeks

SF/PF Joe Johnson – OUT (Wrist) 1-2 weeks

PG Dante Exum – OUT (Shoulder) Indefinite

What To Watch For

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Just sit back and enjoy the show. Giannis—who is the biggest what if in the Jazz’s 2013 Draft—will probably put on a show tonight, taking full advantage of a Rudy Gobert-less paint. Joe Ingles will be the unfortunate soul who gets to guard the Greek Freak. Joe Ingles who can bother smaller wings with his length and patience will not have the same advantage over the athletic wunderkind who is Antetokounmpo.

Rodney Hood, Royce O’Neal, and Thabo Sefolosha will also see time guarding Giannis. Thabo will probably see a lot more minutes tonight as he has the frame, athleticism and defensive prowess to slow down the MVP candidate.

Ricky Rubio

Utah Jazz v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

This is the battle of possible trade targets the Jazz could have had when they were looking to replace George Hill in the offseason. While Ricky Rubio was Gordon Hayward’s choice (look how that turned out), Eric Bledsoe would have been the better fit in a Gordon Hayward and Dante Exum-less present ... but enough about what if’s. What about the present?

Rubio has been struggling over the past 10 games. It seems to be every game that we’re asking ourselves, “Is this the game that turns Rubio’s bad streak around?” Rubio had a better game against the hapless Bulls with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block, but you’d expect a good game against the Bulls. Can Ricky be a help not a detriment tonight against the Bucks and the much more physical Eric Bledsoe? We’ll see

Most Likely Jazz Killer: Giannis Antetokounmpo

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t have to overthink this one. The Jazz have struggled with interior defense since the loss of Rudy Gobert. Giannis is a wrecking ball while going to the paint. This could be a rough night for Utah. Derrick Favors and Ekpe Udoh will have to put in Gobert-ian nights to hold back the Greek Freak. It is possible. The Utah Jazz play much better at home and Giannis could still be feeling the effects of knee soreness as he sat out last game trying to heal up.