We have had a number of exciting NBA games over the last few weeks, but tonight there is another battle in the cards. The second-placed Eastern Conference Milwaukee Bucks take on the top-rated Western Conference Utah Jazz in what could be a key matchup.
After losing narrowly to the Phoenix Suns a couple of days ago, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis and his teammates will be itching to get back to winning ways to close the gap on the 76ers. Philadelphia went down to a 118-114 defeat last night to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Meanwhile the Utah Jazz will be keen to keep their one game lead over the Los Angeles Lakers intact. The Jazz are on a five-game winning streak and they have lost just once in their last 17 games. With a 10-2 record at home and a 10-3 record on the road, they are equally proficient wherever they play.
Bucks Going Strongly In The East Once Again
After five wins in a row, the Bucks finally lost to the Suns earlier this week. They have won seven of their last ten and of course, Giannis has played a key role in those wins alongside Khris Middleton and Bryn Forbes.
The problem I have with the Bucks is that while they have been winning games, they haven’t really been at their best. That was evident against the Suns this week, a game they should have won, and I think there is no room for error against the Jazz here.
The last time the Bucks lost, they then lost the next game too (Pelicans followed by Hornets) and before that they lost two in a row too (Nets and then Lakers). I have a nagging feeling that pattern may continue here.
Jazz’s Magnificent Form Elevates Them Top Of The West
One defeat in 17 games is an incredible performance from any NBA team and the Utah Jazz have achieved that feat taking them top of the Western Conference. Not even the L.A.Lakers, many people’s favourite to win the NBA Championship, can match that kind of form.
Led by the inspiring form of the trio of Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz have swept almost all before them over the past couple of months and now they have the Bucks firmly in their sights.
Shaquille O’Neal may not think Donovan Mitchell has what it takes to “get to the next level” but results suggest that he and his teammates may well have already reached it.
Of course, there’s still plenty of the season left to go and the Jazz face a pretty tough run in the next few weeks with games against the Heat, 76ers, then a double header against the Clippers before games against the Hornets and then the Lakers. If they come through that run top of the Western Conference, then this team will be genuine NBA Championship contenders.
What Do The Bookmakers Think Will Happen?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the bookmakers have this down as a close one. DraftKings Sportsbook have this game as being -1.5 in favor of the Jazz (-112), with the Bucks +1.5 (+109). In the Money Line, the difference between the two is also small with the Jazz -127 and the Bucks just +106
Safe to say then that the bookies also feel that this game is going to be a close one and could well go down to the wire.
Who Do We See Winning The Game?
For me, Giannis is the X-Factor in this game. I think in terms of form and in terms of matching players with players, the Jazz just about have the edge in most areas of the field. The one leveller for the Bucks is the stellar play over their current 2-time NBA MVP.
However, he netted 47 points against the Suns earlier on this week and that wasn’t enough to overcome Phoenix. As talented as Giannis is, he cannot win games on his own.
That is the reason why despite his freakish skill set, I am going to go with Utah Jazz to claim the win here. They are deservedly top of the Western Conference, which does look the toughest of the two. The Jazz are in great form, they are confident and in truth, when they take to the court, they look incredibly difficult to stop.
It will be close, Giannis will ensure that, but for me, the Jazz are the team to back here.