Cavs (32-24, 15-14 road, 4th East) @ Bucks (21-35, 15-11 home, 12th East)
Bucks Stats: Offense 20th (101.6 pts/100 poss), Defense 29th (108.3), Rebounding 19th (.500 rr), Pace 22nd (92.9)
Cavs Stats: Offense 17th (102.8 pts/100 poss), Defense 16th (103.8), Rebounding 2nd (.520 rr), Pace 18th (93.3)
Bucks Injuries: Ramon Sessions is out with a broken left hand.
Cavs Injuries: Daniel Gibson is out up to six weeks with an ankle injury. Anderson Varejao has been out for the last month with an ankle injury but has been working out in the past week and could return tonight. Sasha Pavlovic has been out since January with a foot injury.
- The new-look Cavs have won three in a row, including a 109-89 win at home over the Grizz that featured the debuts of new acquisitions Ben Wallace (12 pts/10 rebs), Wally Szczerbiak (10 pts), Delonte West (5 pts/6 asts) and former Buck Joe Smith (14 pts/6 rebs). And oh yeah, that LeBron character had 25/7/11. While the Bucks coaching staff has watched the tape of that game, Larry Krystkowiak is more concerned with his own team, however:
"We’ll have to be aggressive. We need to be physical and do what we can to keep them off the glass. They make an awful lot of hay on offensive rebounds and their transition game. So that’ll be two of the big keys for us.
"But we need to worry about the Bucks and not so much about what’s going on in Cleveland’s locker room."
- The Bucks meanwhile are coming off their biggest comeback of the year in Saturday's 115-109 win against Denver. Key to the Bucks' 23-point comeback was a 29-10 rebounding edge in the second half, and Mike Redd's season-high 42 points didn't hurt either. The Bucks will have a hard time duplicating those sorts of rebounding numbers against the Cavs, who ranked second in the league in rebound rate before they picked up Wallace and Smith. Quote of the day goes to Redd, however:
"I played not-so-good in Denver and I wanted to come out and just, you know – Denver has a tendency to try and punk other teams – and they did it to us the last time we played them and I just wanted to be the aggressor.
- Redd had 13 in the final quarter against the Nuggets, but he hasn't been great in the clutch this season. Though Redd's per-48 minute scoring average in close and late situations is 6th in the league, he's shooting just .382 from the field and .282 from distance in the clutch. LeBron meanwhile leads the league in clutch scoring rate (59 pts/48 minutes) while shooting a healthy .483 from the field.
- Though their offense still ranks just 20th in efficiency, the Bucks have scored 100 points in each of their past four games, averaging 108.3 (Edit: sorry, 106.3) in that span while going 2-2 against three of the league's better teams (New Orleans, Detroit twice, and Denver). Redd is shooting only slightly more (18.8 fga vs. 17.3 overall) but he's averaging 29.3 ppg thanks to hot shooting (51%) and lots of trips to the line (35/46 ft). Mo Williams, meanwhile, is averaging 16.8 in the four games, under his season average of 17.5 ppg, while also shooting less (13.0 fga vs. 14.4 for the season).
- We told you last week that the Bucks' scoring differential suggests they've been among the luckier teams in the league, with the Cavs and Nets the only teams that have a greater differential between their actual and expected winning percentages. Cleveland has won 57.1% of their games so far, mainly because they are an outrageous 18-5 in games decided by five points or less; looks like LBJ's clutch play is paying off. Overall the Cavs have been outscored by an average of one point per 100 possessions, which projects to just a .466 win%.
- Devin Brown has been starting of late for the Cavs, which might be bad news for the Bucks considering what the journeyman did against the Bucks the last time out: 11 points, nine boards and six assists.
- Former Buck Damon Jones has made 10/16 three pointers over the past two games, including 7/11 against the Wizards last week. That makes him the anti-Charlie Villanueva, who has now missed 19 consecutive three pointers and is shooting only .257 from three on the season. CV hasn't made a three pointer since January 22, but he's helping the team in other ways, averaging 13.6 ppg and 7.6 rpg in February.
- In the all-tortoise, no-hare race for the final playoff spot in the East, the Bucks are still just 3.5 games behind the Sixers, but they also have three teams (Atlanta, Chicago, and Indiana) ahead of them.
- After putting up a career-best 16.3 ppg and 9.6 rpg 56% shooting in January, Andrew Bogut has put up 13.4 ppg and 9.7 rpg this month but his shooting has been a very mixed bag: he's shooting an ugly .408 from the field but his free throw percetnage is at a surprisingly healthy .742.
- Check out the always stellar Brian Windhorst for more on the Cavs. Also worth reading: And One and Waiting for Next Year.