Milwaukee Bucks vs. Utah Jazz Pick & Prediction JANUARY 8th 2024

The Utah Jazz have only won six road games all season and lost by 29 points to Boston over the weekend, but that might not make the Milwaukee Bucks feel too confident when they host them on Monday night.

Not only have the Bucks lost three of four games, but they dropped a 112-108 decision to the host Houston Rockets on Saturday night despite getting 48 points and 17 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo.

And they’ll take the court Monday without point guard Damian Lillard, who was ruled out for personal reasons. Top backup Cameron Payne is also missing while in concussion protocol.

The means more will be asked of Antetokounmpo.

He was retrospective after a game in which he personally played well, hitting 16 of 25 shots, but his team was unsuccessful for the third time in 2024 after an 11-2 December. His message to the Bucks organization: Be better.

“We have to be better. We have to play better, we have to defend better, we have to trust one another better, we have to be coached better,” Antetokounmpo said.

“Every single thing, everybody has to be better. It starts from the equipment manager — he has to wash our clothes better. The bench has to be better, the leaders of the team have to be more vocal, we have to make more shots, we have to defend better, we have to have a better strategy, we have to be better. We have four months to get better, so we’ll see.”

The Jazz, meanwhile, rebounded quite nicely from Friday’s blowout in Beantown.

Lauri Markkanen compiled 33 points and 13 rebounds while Collin Sexton totaled 22 points and a season-high 10 assists on Saturday en route to a 120-109 victory in Philadelphia. John Collins added 19 points and Jordan Clarkson contributed 18 for the Jazz.

“Last night was tough, but it tells a lot about our group to be able to refocus and come here locked in,” Markkanen said Saturday, referring to the game against the Celtics. “For the most part, we were doing the right things.”

That’s been the theme for the Jazz for the past month. After starting the 2023-24 campaign 7-16 — and looking like a lottery-bound club — Utah has won 10 of 14 games. The Jazz are 4-1 in their past five games.

That stretch includes last week’s wild 154-148 overtime victory against the visiting Detroit Pistons. That tied the franchise record for most points scored by Utah in a game and set a record for most points recorded by both teams in a Jazz game.

The Jazz are getting contributions from a bevy of sources — from top players like Markkanen, Clarkson and Sexton to NBA newcomer Simone Fontecchio and offseason addition Collins. Rookie Keyonte George has also shined at times at the point guard position.

Clarkson liked what he saw, for the most part, on Saturday against a Sixers squad that was missing a few key pieces, including MVP candidate Joel Embiid. Utah led after every quarter and only briefly trailed in the second half before building a 15-point lead. The Jazz shot 57.5 percent from the floor and took advantage of the Embiid-less 76ers by scoring 72 points in the paint.

“Every possession, I felt we got better,” Clarkson said. “I know we always say together and communicate, but that’s the only way to win in the league.”

–Field Level Media

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