Friday night the Utah Jazz host the keeper of the best record in the league, the Milwaukee Bucks. Despite a 40 burger from Lauri Markkanen, the Jazz come into Friday after losing to the Portland Trailblazers on Wednesday night, meanwhile, Milwaukee walloped San Antonio on Wednesday. The Jazz enter Friday in the middle of the giant mess that is the Western Conference play-in push. We are currently .5 games behind the Lakers and Mavericks for the play-in game, we’re also tied with the Pelicans at the 11th spot. Oh also, we’re just 2 games behind Golden State for the 6th spot in the West where we would face Sacramento in the first round. Oh also, we’re 3 games out of having home-court advantage in the playoffs. Calling it a giant mess feels like an understatement.
With all of that said the Utah Jazz are going to be short-handed. The Jazz will be missing a litany of players on Friday:
Jordan Clarkson (finger sprain)
Rudy Gay (lower back soreness)
Lauri Markkanen (left hand contusion)
Collin Sexton (left hamstring strain)
But if Will Hardy has done anything in his rookie season it’s getting the most out of players. He’s possibly the coach of the Most Improved Player this season (Lauri Markkanen), but it doesn’t stop there, Talen Horton-Tucker, Collin Sexton, and Walker Kessler have all exceeded expectations under his coaching.
This Milwaukee team is probably not the type of team that loses to teams as short-handed as the Jazz are currently, in my opinion, they’re the best team in the league, their 52 wins vs. 20 losses back that opinion up nicely. Milwaukee is healthy, well-coached, and also has a man name Giannis Antenkoumpo. Giannis is having an incredibly underrated season, he’s currently averaging 31.2 points per game, 11.9 rebounds per game, 5.5 assists per game, and might be the best defender on the planet.
While this is an Utah Jazz fan site, while this is a preview of the Jazz vs. the Bucks. I need to take a second to give flowers to a man who has received a lot of flowers, however many flowers he receives throughout his career it won’t be enough. Giannis Antenkoumpo is everything right about the NBA. The guy shared shoes with his brothers, faced a great deal of racism in his home country, and grew up in poverty. While going through all of these challenges he is one of the happiest, funniest guys on the planet. He is exactly why the NBA continues to reach globally as hard as they do. We need even more Giannis Antenkoumpos in the league, we’re lucky to have him, let’s continue to not take for granted how awesome of a player and human Giannis is.
*Important to note* Joseph Howarth Ingles is back in Utah to play for the first time since being traded last season. Joe was everything right with the Jazz teams of the last few years. He charmed fans for years while hitting step-back threes over Paul George in the playoffs, talking crap to every player or fan he could, and most importantly showing a great deal of humility when he opened up about his son’s autism diagnosis. Joe is special, it’ll be great to have him back. If you need me I’ll be in the back uncontrollably sobbing.
Who: Utah Jazz vs. Milwaukee Bucks
When: Friday, March 24th @ 7:00 PM
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: AT&T sports network Rocky Mountain