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Bucks vs. Cavaliers Preview | Giannis starts again in Cleveland

Two days after starting for the first time in the Bucks' double-overtime loss to the Knicks, Giannis Antetokounmpo gets another chance to show us what he can do when the still-depleted Bucks head to Cleveland for a date with Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
2013/14 NBA Season
(1-2, 0-1 home)
(2-2, 0-2 away)
December 20, 2013
Quicken Loans Arena | Cleveland, OH
6:30 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ / Audio League Pass
Probable Starters
Brandon Knight PG Kyrie Irving
Giannis Antetokounmpo SG C.J. Miles
Khris Middleton SF Alonzo Gee
Ekpe Udoh PF Tristan Thompson
John Henson C Andrew Bynum
2013/14 Advanced Stats
91.0 (27th) Pace 93.6 (17th)
97.1 (30th) ORtg 100.5 (25th)
106.6 (21st) DRtg 106.2 (19th)

Links: Fear the Sword | Cavs the Blog | Waiting For Next YearBucks Game Notes | Cavs Game Notes

Has there been a weirder time to be a Bucks fan?

Milwaukee is last in the league at 5-20, they have the worst offense in the league, they've lost four in a row, and half the team seems to be in walking boots.

And yet, it's an oddly fun time to be following the team, isn't it?

Running neck and neck in the silver linings department are the promise of an impact addition from the 2014 draft and the rising (and justified) hype behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, though the consistently damn good play of John Henson and solid starts from fellow youngsters Khris Middleton and Nate Wolters is a big part of it, too. With the Bucks' veterans suffering a rash of injuries, Milwaukee's youngsters have stepped up to provide plenty of promise, even if wins have been hard to come by. In the grand scheme of the universe, you could argue it's been a perfect storm of bad things that could ultimately lead to much better ones.

One of the Bucks' few good nights this season happened to come at the expense of the Cavaliers, whom the Bucks beat waaaaaaaaay back on November 6 by a 109-104 margin. Amazingly: of the ten guys who started that game, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson figured to be the only ones who will be on the court at tip off tonight, though Irving (illness) and Dion Waiters (wrist) are both in doubt tonight. Irving Not that the Bucks have only scored that many points one other time this season--in their 109-105 OT win in Washington--which gives you a good feel for how bad the offense has been.

Fresh off the first start of his career on Wednesday, Giannis is expected to start his second game in a row despite Mayo being back after missing Wednesday's due to personal reasons. I'm not sure if that means this is a permanent-ish move, but it's certainly a big statement to be starting a 19-year-old kid over your leading scorer and highest paid player. And yeah, I know Mayo's leading scorer title doesn't mean much given he's only putting up 14.3 ppg, but still. Drew could have also opted to go small with Middleton/Giannis manning the forward spots, but given Cleveland's size up front that seems like a recipe for disaster. Or at least utter destruction on the boards/in the paint.

Mayo has experience in the sixth man role dating back to his days in Memphis, though I'm guessing he'll still get 30 minutes given Gary Neal's absence and it doesn't seem like. And for practical purposes I'm not sure how much Giannis will be defending the Cavs' shooting guards anyway, since Khris Middleton might be a more natural matchup. Either way, the Bucks have some flexibility on the wing with this move, though they will be shorthanded up front. Beyond Henson and Udoh, Miroslav Raduljica figures to be the only big man available and will likely be called on to use up some fouls against Andrew Bynum. The one-time Laker all-star still isn't back to his old self, but Mike Brown has ramped up his minutes to over 23 per game in December and he's doing better: nearly 11 ppg and 7 rpg, including a 20/13 game in Atlanta two weeks ago.