The Utah Jazz don’t have much time to get over their first loss of the season. Fewer than 24 hours after falling to the Chicago Bulls following four straight wins to open the season, the Jazz visit Milwaukee on Sunday evening to face the defending champion Bucks.
Milwaukee won’t be well-rested for this matchup, either. The Bucks suffered a 102-93 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night, falling to a mediocre 3-3 record after claiming the 2020-21 NBA championship a few months ago.
Utah should get a lift from All-Star point guard Mike Conley Jr., who didn’t play in Saturday’s loss at Chicago due to right knee injury maintenance. Conley usually played in only one game on back-to-back sets last season, too, as the Jazz tried to not overburden the veteran playmaker’s knee.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer addressed the fact that many of his key players logged season-highs in minutes against the Spurs on Saturday night, including Giannis Antetokounmpo (34 minutes), Khris Middleton (33), George Hill (32) and Grayson Allen (29).
“The whole group, it’s just — we just gotta live in our little world and cave, and I’m sure everybody is dealing with different things and will deal with different things at different times — so certainly Giannis and Khris are carrying a big load right now, and it’s my job to be mindful of that and treat them appropriately, the whole group appropriately,” Budenholzer told the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal. “We’ve got to find a way to work our way through this stretch.”
Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 28 points and 13 rebounds vs. San Antonio, but the Spurs still handed the Bucks their second home loss in a row. The Jazz beat them in Milwaukee and in Utah last season.
Not having Conley definitely affected the Jazz, who turned the ball over 20 times, leading to 25 points for the Bulls.
All-Star Donovan Mitchell committed six of those turnovers and shot just 9 of 27 en route to a team-high 30 points in the team’s first loss.
“We were just reckless with the ball,” Mitchell said. “I think just mental mistakes played into a lot of it. When we got into our stuff, it looked good, and it looked fluid. But I think the biggest thing is just being able to play through the pressure — physical pressure, I mean.”