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Cavaliers vs. Bucks Preview: Kyrie Irving hoping to snap struggling Cavs out of funk

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The struggling Cavaliers return to Milwaukee for the first time since Brandon Jennings' buzzer-beater lifted the Bucks to an opening night win on November 3.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

2012/2013 NBA Season
Mil_medium
(14-11, 7-5 home)
vs.
Cle
(5-23, 2-14 road)
December 22, 2012
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
7:30 CT
No Local | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Brandon Jennings PG Kyrie Irving
Monta Ellis SG Dion Waiters
Marquis Daniels SF Alonzo Gee
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute PF Tristan Thompson
Larry Sanders C Tyler Zeller
2012/13 Advanced Stats
93.5 (6th) Pace 91.6 (17th)
101.4 (27th) ORtg 101.7 (26th)
102.5 (9th) DRtg 108.7 (27th)

On the Cavaliers: Fear the Sword | Waiting for Next Year | Cavs the Blog

Cavs update. Cleveland has lost ten in a row to the Bucks, six in a row in Milwaukee, six straight overall, and 17 in a row against divisional opponents. In short, all is not well in the state of Ohio. Rebounding machine Anderson Varejao (14.1 ppg, 14.4 rpg) has missed three straight games (bruised knee) and is not expected back tonight either, which is decidedly good news for a Bucks team that saw Varejao pile up a combined 29 points (64% fg) and 35 rebounds in the teams' first two meetings this year.

And honestly I'm not sure if this isn't all for the best. The Cavs already have their franchise player in Kyrie Irving, along with a slew of young guys who could develop into quality starters in their own right (Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller), but there's otherwise little to like about their roster aside from Varejao. And while I think on-court success is a much-needed ingredient to any young player's development, I'd also say another high lottery pick will probably do them more long-term good than puttering around in the 30-35 win range this season. I should know: I'm a Bucks fan.

Backcourts. It's no secret that both teams rely heavily on their guards to create offense, though most of them don't create enough offense (at least so far) to justify said reliance. I mentioned yesterday that Ellis and Jennings are among the least efficient 15+ ppg guys in the league, and Waiters (who just misses that group at 14.5 ppg) is even worse (45.1% true shooting, 36% field goals). The rookie from Syracuse hit a flurry of tough jumpers against the Bucks back in the opener, but he's been surprisingly terrible at the rim (41.5%) for a guy known largely for his athleticism. On the plus side, his turnover rate is pretty low, he's been solid from mid-range (39%) and his 3.6 apg speak to his abilities as a creator off the bounce as well.