The Bucks seemed a little out of sorts all night, which tracks since Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the game with back spasms. Thankfully, Bobby Portis was more than happy to pick up the slack, scoring 12 points in the game’s first quarter, which ended in a 27-14 Milwaukee lead. The Bucks’ offense skidded to a stop for most of the second quarter, but the Cavaliers’ limited roster and the Bucks’ improved defense (perhaps due to a lower degree of difficulty?) kept the game close. A late surge from Khris Middleton pushed the Bucks’ lead back to double digits, but the halftime score was still only 47-37, indicative of how low-scoring this affair was.
The second half was more of the same, as Cleveland was forced to run huge lineups that included Andre Drummond, Larry Nance, Javale McGee, and old friend Thon Maker. The Bucks were able to maintain a nominal lead throughout the half, but the legs were tired enough and shots were short-armed enough for the offense to look just as ugly as the final score suggests. The final minutes of the game were a whistle-filled slog, but the Bucks did just enough to maintain their lead against an understaffed Cavaliers squad.
Stat That Stood Out
With the absence of Giannis and half of Cleveland’s regular rotation, the pace of this game was slow and mistakes were plentiful on both sides, throwing many aspects of the box score out of whack. However, the biggest standout of the game was Khris Middleton on offense, and just how well he managed to score at the rim. Per NBA.com, Khris was a perfect 6-6 for shots taken in the paint, and most of those shots were off of drives. This is a wrinkle of Middleton’s game that we haven’t consistently seen before, and improvement in this area would be a massive development for himself (becoming a true three-level scorer) and the Bucks in the postseason.