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Milwaukee vs. Cleveland: Cavs Blow Past Bucks, 116-97

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The Bucks couldn’t get it done as the Cavs’ 3-point shooting proved to be the arch nemesis once again

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In what began as a raucous night at the Bradley Center unfortunately turned into a game of frustrations, as the Cavaliers earned a convincing win over the Bucks, 116-97. A lethal third quarter ended up being enough to power Cleveland to the finish line after Milwaukee had zero answers for their sharp shooting.

Immediately out of the gates, the crowd was jacked. The anticipation had reached an all-time high, and the roof was blown off when Thon slammed one home to begin the scoring. Hot shooting gave the Bucks a quick lead, but the Cavs were quick to respond and baskets soon began to be traded.

The half saw Cleveland build a 55-49 lead, but things went south as the third quarter began (Hey, that sounds familiar). Defensive breakdowns saw the Cavs exploit Milwaukee and allowed them to build a double-digit lead. The third quarter really was where the eulogy was delivered on this one, as the Bucks would never really come close to making it a competitive game after that. The dagger occurred with just over six minutes to go, when James swatted Antetokounmpo — then hit a 3-pointer on the other end. Not even the fourth quarter rev up could really get the crowd into it, and the Cavs pulled away.

For the Bucks, Giannis led the way in the stat sheet, finishing with 34 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. He was nearly impossible to stop again, as Cleveland struggled all night to come up with an answer.

For Cleveland, LeBron led the way with 24 points. Kevin Love mixed in 17 and Kyle Korver proved to be quite essential with 17 of his own off the bench.

Three Observations

I know Giannis improved himself during the offseason, but my goodness. He is insanely good.

Everybody is talking about Giannis Antetokounmpo, and I simply love it. All Bucks fans do. It’s so great. I’ve never seen him attack the rim like he did tonight though. That’s evident from his hard work during the offseason. I know it sounds stupid, but man, there’s just something different about him. He’s more aggressive. He seems to understand the game flow better. He seems to control the game as a floor general more. Every defensive challenged that Cleveland brought upon him (especially early on) seemed to be denied by a field goal that was scored with ease.

I asked Tyronn Lue about what he saw in Giannis, and this is what he responded with:

This is only the beginning of the praise Giannis is going to be receiving from opposing head coaches, so fasten your seat belts.

The Cavaliers absolutely dismantle the Bucks every time they play each other.

If you think to yourself, “Boy, every time the Bucks play the Cavs, it ends up in Cleveland making eight million 3-pointers,” you’re not wrong. Take a look at this stat:

Despite starting the game 2-of-10 from beyond the perimeter, Cleveland was able to make up lost ground. Once Kyle Korver got going, it was difficult to turn around. There was one point where LeBron held the ball at the top of the key for close to three seconds, waiting for somebody to come out on him. Antetokounmpo would eventually try to shelter him with defesnse, but it was too late. James sank the 3-pointer and put the Cavs up 101-86 with 6:19 left. You know what they say though. The 12th time is the charm (I kid, I kid). But seriously, let’s hope the Bucks defend better the next time these two teams face off.

In big games like these, there needs to be a larger supporting cast.

We all know Giannis was going to put on a show, and that he did. But when the Bucks play against big teams like Cleveland, he needs help. Khris Middleton was nowhere to be found. It seemed as if he would develop plenty of opportunities, but nothing would fall for Deuces. He finished with only eight points on the night. That simply is not going to cut it. If fans are expecting Middleton to be a possible All-Star this season, the big games like these are where he needs to show it. Tony Snell started off hot by connecting for two 3-pointers. But when it was all said and done, he tallied only nine points. It’s simple — help like that for Giannis isn’t going to get the job accomplished against this Cleveland team.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • I don’t even know the proper adjectives to use to describe how amped the crowd was tonight. I’m not joking when I say it felt like a playoff atmosphere. My favorite part wasn’t even the Bucks scoring, but early on, Giannis got a turnover in the backcourt. He took giant strides forward and as he did, the entire arena stood up in anticipation. Unfortunately, he was unable to convert, but it was still incredible to see the crowd react like that. The city of Milwaukee is ready for this team to take the next step.
  • When I heard the halftime show was the Blue Man Group, I was ecstatic. I’ve heard how cool their shows are all through my life. But maaaaaan, was I disappointed. I swear their show wasn’t even two minutes long and only consisted them of banging drums and shooting cannons of confetti into the crowd. I can’t imagine paying $75+ to see them in Vegas.
  • The third quarter was quite disastrous for the Bucks (what’s new?). Scoring opportunities were provided left and right for Cleveland, and in many facets. From driving to the rim, to open shots from the perimeter -- Milwaukee was simply carved in the third period. If Kyle Korver is left open and torching you multiple times from deep, you might want to check your defensive philosophy in the next timeout. You know that’s what he’s going to try and do. It’s tough to see the same scenario unfold every time Milwaukee faces him.
  • I know this is a Bucks blog, but man -- LeBron James is incredible. Every time I watch him live, he does something that I’ve never seen before. Tonight, it was that ferocious slam he threw down in the third quarter. As Mark Jackson says, “Mama, there goes that man.”
  • Kyle Korver is still (unfortunately) a Bucks killer. He’s now reached the same status that Jack Wilson and Jay Bruce had in terrorizing the Brewers (I hope at least some of you understand the gravity of that comparison). It just boggles my mind that the Bucks haven’t grasped the concept of not letting him shoot 3-pointers. I mentioned it in a point above, but ugh, it’s just frustrating to watch (especially when it takes the Bucks out of the game).