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Game 24: Bucks/Cavaliers

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2009/2010 NBA Season

Cle_2_medium

vs.
Mil_2_medium
19-7 (10-2 home)
11-12 (2-8 road)
December 18, 2009
Quicken Loans Arena
7:00 PM CT
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin HD, ESPN
Probable starters:
Mo Williams PG Brandon Jennings
Anthony Parker
SG Carlos Delfino
LeBron James
SF Luc Mbah a Moute
J.J. Hickson
PF Ersan Ilyasova
Shaquille O'Neal
C Andrew Bogut

 109.3 (10th)  - OFFENSE -  (24th) 104.1
103.2  (5th)  - DEFENSE -  (6th) 103.2

91.1  (26th)   - PACE -  (10th) 93.4

Linkage

Fear The SwordCavs The Blog / Cleveland.com

Principal on King. I get that Charlie Bell defended Kobe Bryant into a miss in regulation, and that Luc Mbah a Moute hadn't played down the stretch. Still I would have liked for The Principal to be on Kobe Bean in overtime.

You probably recall that James wasn't Milwaukee's foremost problem in the first matchup; he only netted 14 points and had more turnovers (5) than field goals (4). But he has been on a scoring kick since living Brew City, averaging 36.6 points in his last five. Kobe Bryant came in on a roll and kept on-a rolling against the Bucks.

Anyway, it would be prudent to keep Luc stuck on LeBron for a good portion of the evening. Mbah a Moute isn't an offensive zero, but he struggles to contribute on that end of the floor, particularly from anywhere outside of ten feet. He's at 40.0 % from 10-15 feet, 28.0 % from 16-23 feet, and he doesn't really shoot threes (3-8 from the season).

But he is just too good defensively to keep out for too long, especially when facing an all-time talent like James.

After the game in Milwaukee, here is what John Krolik at Cavs the Blog wrote.

-He only played defense on LeBron for a few minutes, but Mbah a Moute is on a very short list of the best perimeter defenders in the league. It’s extremely rare to see LeBron get bothered on the perimeter like he was tonight by “The Prince.” He could be a special player on that end, although I wonder how he’ll ever make himself useful offensively. The plan right now seems to be to make him into a 3-and-D guy, but his stroke does not look all that natural, and I have a pet theory that perimeter guys with insanely long arms have a tougher time developing a good stroke on their jumper because of the sheer amount of coordination getting that much arm into the correct place takes. (Durant would be an exception that proves the rule.)

Who will stop Delonte West, I don't know.

National audience. After leaving Milwaukee, the Cavaliers actually lost two in a row -- in Memphis and Houston. But they've recovered rather nicely, reeling off four straight wins, the latest a 108-101 win over the Sixers. James went for a noteworthy-but-hardly-surprising 36/6/7 in Philly.

The Cavs are clearly the class of the Central Division, so this is just another game in that sense. The second-place Bucks are already 6.5 games behind the leaders but just 3.0 ahead of last place Chicago.

Cleveland is the only team to blow out Milwaukee at home this season, and it doesn't figure to get any easier going on the road. The Cavs are a first-rate home team, to put it lightly. For perspective, their 10-2 record at Quicken is only seen as a disappointment coming off a 39-2 (!) home campaign in 2008-09.

What a task for Milwaukee on national television. The Bucks struggled badly the first time on ESPN this year, going down hard in OKC.

Foes. The Bucks are still hovering pretty lowly on the Strength of Schedule rankings. And they've played three more at home than away coming into the game.

But a closer look reveals that Milwaukee has played the best of the best, and competed. Let's review:

As far as top title contenders, we have the Lakers, Celtics, and Magic.

-Lakers: Milwaukee lost on a last-second shot by Kobe in overtime in a game they very well could and should have won in both regulation and overtime.

-Celtics: Played them tough in Boston before losing by single digits. But they were very much in the game late in the fourth quarter.

-Magic: Had a chance to win this one at the end but fell by two points.

Very legit contenders are the Cavs, Nuggets, Spurs, and Mavs.

-Cavs: Okay, this one wasn't pretty.

-Nuggets: Remains a signature win, Milwaukee led the entire second half.

-Spurs: San Antonio worked Milwaukee pretty nicely in this one.

-Mavs: Heartbreaking buzzer-beating loss thanks to Dirk.

Out of those seven games, five really good games, even if four them (and six of seven overall) ended in losses. Might be some hope for tonight.