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Bucks/Cavs: Preview

Bucks (10-13, 2-11 road, 8th East) @ Cavs (10-14, 5-5 home, 9th East)

Gametime: 6:00 PM CT
TV: FSN Wisconsin/League Pass/NBA LP Broadband
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free @ NBA.com

Bucks Stats: Offense 18th (101.6 pts/100 poss), Defense 27th (106.7), Rebounding 8th (.509 rr), Pace 19th (93.1)
Cavs Stats: Offense 20th (100.6 pts/100 poss), Defense 26th (106.0), Rebounding 11th (.506 rr), Pace 13th (94.8)

Bucks Lineup: Mo Williams / Michael Redd / Desmond Mason / Yi Jianlian / Andrew Bogut
Cavs Lineup: Eric Snow / Sasha Pavlovic / LeBron James / Drew Gooden / Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Bucks Injuries: Michael Ruffin is out another week or so with a fractured wrist. David Noel is out at least a month with a wrist sprain.
Cavs Injuries: Donyell Marshall has missed all but the first two games of the season with a wrist injury. Cedric Simmons has been out for three weeks with a sprained ankle.

07/08 Series: Bucks 1-0. The Bucks won their first road game of the season on November 20 in Cleveland, beating the Cavs 111-107. Mike Redd had 34 points including 15/20 ft along with seven rebounds and six assists, while Mo Williams chipped in 20, six rebounds and nine assists.

Key Points:

  • The Cavs understandably struggled recently while LeBron James was out with a sprained finger, losing all five games without him. But what's the problem now? Three games ago the Cavs got both James and Sideshow Bob Anderson Varejao back, beating the Pacers 118-105 at home. But they've subsequently lost in New Jersey 105-97 and at home to Philly 92-86. James has attempted just four free throws in the last two games.
  • The Bucks meanwhile are coming off another close home win against a subpar opponent in Minnesota. While the Bucks' ups and downs can drive us all crazy at times, in a macro sense they've been somewhat consistent: win mostly close games at home (8-2), lose by a little or a lot on the road (2-11). The Bucks once again got nothing from their bench on Saturday: 1/15 fg and just four points. LK justifiably didn't have much patience with them, and it took another great night from Redd and a career-high from Yi to sneak past the T'wolves. As always, the bench trio of Bell, Simmons and Villanueva will need to start hitting shots for the Bucks to start playing close to their potential. Villanueva was reportedly slowed recently by a bout with food poisoning, and Bell did some show some signs of life against the Magic, but thus far Bell (.250) and Simmons' (.298) three point shooting has been dismal.
  • Varejao missed the first 21 games of the season due to his ugly holdout, but has averaged 5.3 ppg and 6.7 rpg in 25 mpg since returning, or about what you'd expect. Still, numbers have never told the full story on Varejao, whose primary value is in his hustle play and ability to guard post bigs. This will also be a matchup of last year's biggest flopper (Varejao) and the current league leader in charges, Andrew Bogut.
  • The Bucks will need a more active night from Bogut, who has just one block in his last five games and has looked out of sorts offensively the last few games. Bogut had 12 and five along with four blocks in the first meeting between the two teams.
  • Eric Snow missed the first eleven games of the season including the first game between these two teams, but his return along with Larry Hughes return from injury have cut into the minutes of second-year man Daniel Gibson. Gibson had 26 points including five threes in the first game, but hasn't played at all in two of the last three games. Given the Bucks' penchant for giving up open threes it's probably not a bad thing if Snow and Hughes keep Gibson on the pine. ETA: I just looked into it and apparently Gibson's DNPs were due to a wisdom teeth getting pulled, and then getting hit in the face a few days later.  So it sounds like he will play plenty tonight.
  • Speaking of Hughes, the Cavs' $60 million man continues to be a massive disappointment, fighting through injuries to average 11.7 ppg, 2.3 apg and 2.3 rpg in 28 mpg so far this year. His field goal percentage is down to .353.
  • Yi Jianlian has been a key contributor in the past week, averaging 20 ppg and 7 rpg on 64% shooting in the home wins over the Magic and T'wolves (I'll conveniently ignore that six turnover outing in Boston). Yi's recent offense is a welcome addition given the scoring inconsistency of everyone on the team not named Redd or Williams.

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