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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview: En Garde

A divisional foe trots to town

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks got back on track with a thoroughly satisfying triumph over the Miami Heat on Saturday evening, and now they’re readying themselves for a much-improved Central Division foe, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are coming off a back-to-back, after losing against Utah Sunday afternoon.

Where We’re At

Look, every win against the Miami Heat is an occasion for celebration, but this level of pettiness by the Bucks account is worth cracking an extra prosecco bottle over.

This is, of course, a reference to the Heat’s rather ridiculous statement posted on their Twitter account regarding their “punishment” for tampering in what led to the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade. Simply delicious, although the on-court product was just as enjoyable, with Pat Connaughton raining down triples for 23 points and Khris Middleton adding 22. Bobby Portis nearly logged a double-double, and the decision was rarely ever in doubt. While PJ Tucker getting his ring may have left some a bit misty-eyed, there was no sentimentality among Milwaukee’s players once they hit the court and had to respond to a couple different cheap shots from the Heat. Oh well. They get a chance to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time this season, a team that’s well exceeded most expectations already.

The Cavs have been mostly a laughingstock in the Mike Budenholzer era, but they’ve managed to pull it together behind their rookie Evan Mobley, third year guard Darius Garland and a cast of supporting pieces. Garland is attempting seven triples per-36, hitting nearly 38% of them, while his backcourt mate Ricky Rubio is knocking down a respectable 35% with nearly equal volume. What’s been most impressive to this point though, and the backbone of their success, is their defense, allowing the third fewest points/100 possessions in the league. Their frontcourt of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley may be facing a hefty amount of shots at the rim, but they’re second in the league in terms of opponent rim percentage. A stifling 58.6%. It should be a great test for Giannis to see whether he can carve them up inside, provided he plays. They’re top-ten in terms of frequency of opponent triples allowed, but folks are only shooting 33.3% against them. Eventually that might regress, and hopefully Milwaukee gets that regression started!

The Cavs are coming off a nailbiting 108-109 loss against the Utah Jazz, featuring a stalwart 31-point performance from Darius Garland and double-doubles from the twin towers, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

For Milwaukee, they’ll be without Semi, Donte and Brook, as per usual. Grayson Allen, George Hill and Giannis, all of whom missed the Miami game, are listed as questionable. Here’s who was missing for the Cavs on Sunday, but their injury report for this game has yet to be submitted. Collin Sexton (OUT - meniscus), Dean Wade (OUT - calf), Cedi Osman (QUESTIONABLE - back), Dylan Windler (QUESTIONABLE - back)

Player to Watch

Mobley, Mobley, Mobley, he was seemingly all pundits could talk about for the first few weeks of the season. Mobley has seemingly been better than advertised, a versatile, switchable defender who also flashes passing ability and touch around the rim, where he’s hitting 74% of his shots. I always enjoy when one of these “Giannis-types” get a chance to measure themselves against the best of the best when it comes to versatile, rangy bigs. This play was pretty sick though.


Game 25: Against Cleveland, the Bucks will...

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