National Basketball Association
Bucks-Jazz Preview
National Basketball Association

Bucks-Jazz Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 12:46 p.m. ET

The Utah Jazz are enjoying their longest win streak of the season with a fairly straightforward obstacle left on what has been a successful six-game homestand.

The Jazz have won 13 straight at home over the Milwaukee Bucks entering Friday night's matchup of teams headed in opposite directions.

Utah (23-25) fell 95-92 to Detroit to open this homestand Jan. 25 before winning the next four for its longest run since a six-game streak in March. The Jazz are battling Houston and Portland for the Western Conference's final two postseason berths.

"We're fighting for a playoff spot," forward Derrick Favors said. "We've got another good team coming in Friday so we've just got to be ready to play."


Favors may not have known who was on the schedule next since Milwaukee (20-31) has lost a season-high four straight and five in a row on the road after dropping to 0-2 on this three-game trip following Tuesday's 107-95 defeat to Portland.

The Bucks have not won at Utah since a 119-112 overtime victory in the 2001-02 opener for both clubs. They haven't scored more than 95 points in the losing streak at Salt Lake City and have shot 37.1 percent in the last five visits while failing to crack the 90-point mark.

That could be difficult to achieve Friday since the Jazz are 16-0 when holding opponents under 90 points and play at the league's slowest tempo with just over 93 possessions per 48 minutes.

Utah has held three teams to 90 or fewer in this win streak, capped by Wednesday's 85-81 victory in which it limited Denver to 37.1 percent shooting.

"That was one of the things we talked about, making sure teams go up against our half-court defense," forward Gordon Hayward said. "We wanted to get three (players) back and I thought for the most part we did that."

Milwaukee is one of the top shooting teams in the league at 46.1 percent. The issue is that high percentage is a result of shots from inside the 3-point line, and the Bucks' average of 15.7 3-point attempts is the second-lowest in the league - a major problem in this era with 3-point shooting being so critical.

Further proving that point is that the Bucks average 18.5 points off turnovers for one of the league's best marks and an NBA-best 49.3 points in the paint. Khris Middleton is the only Bucks player who ranks in the top 50 among qualifying players in 3-point attempts per game, and he's slumping lately by shooting 29.6 percent overall during the losing streak.

Utah limits foes to 21.4 3-point attempts per game for one of the NBA's best marks.

Middleton scored 21 and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 19 on Tuesday for the Bucks, who trailed most of the night and were outscored 46-38 in the paint.

"We got it to five or we got it to six and we just couldn't get a stop, we gave up a wide-open 3 or we gave up an offensive rebound where it was a dunk or a backdoor layup," coach Jason Kidd said. "We're close, we just have to make some plays defensively."


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