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Milwaukee vs. Cleveland: Bucks Close Out Cavaliers, 112-104

The Bucks have now won 10 of their last 11 games

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that featured multiple comeback attempts from Cleveland, the Bucks were able to get the job done vs. their divisional opponents, 112-104.

Neither team would generate much separation to start this one off. In fact, after 12 minutes of play, the game would be tied at 24 apiece. Khris Middleton led the Bucks in scoring with six points and was matched by six from Kevin Love off the Cleveland bench.

The Cavaliers would struggle offensively in the second quarter, which opened up a door for the Bucks to gain a lead. After two quarters of play, Cleveland would shoot just 32.6% from the field. However, Milwaukee wasn’t able to take too much advantage of it. Going into the third quarter, the Bucks held a 56-50 lead.

Just around the midway point of the third quarter, Cleveland would start chomping into the Bucks’ lead. They’d get it to four points at one point, but the Bucks would be quick to answer. Heading into the fourth quarter, Milwaukee would own a 88-78 advantage.

Cleveland would continue to cause fits and make things close in the fourth, but every time they did, the Bucks had an answer. Late in the quarter, it’d be Giannis Antetokounmpo closing it out on his birthday. He was given the ball on nearly every one of Milwaukee’s final possessions and always capitalized. That’d give Milwaukee the 112-104 victory.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was the leading scorer for the Bucks on his birthday, posting a double-double performance of 27 points and 12 rebounds. Khris Middleton poured in 21 points and Jrue Holiday made his presence felt with 20 points.

Jarrett Allen led the Cavaliers, finishing with 25 points. Lauri Markkanen wrapped up his night with 20 points. Evan Mobley put out 12 points.

What Did We Learn?

The Cavaliers came at the Bucks numerous times throughout the night, especially down the stretch. However, each time Milwaukee’s lead was in jeopardy of being squandered, they developed an answer. It really speaks to how seasoned this team is that they can withstand those punches and hold the leads down the stretch. In his postgame presser, Bud really gave kudos to his guys on their ability to not break. Sure, it’s only December now. However, in a way, this is a test for the postseason, even though it’s months away.

Three Observations

Good things happen when Khris Middleton scores the basketball.

We saw it in the game where Giannis was sidelined and we saw it last night again. When Khris Middleton develops a groove, this Bucks team is tough to top. Last night, he scored 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting. It marked the fourth consecutive game that Middleton has scored 20 points. He may have not hit a single 3-point shot from the perimeter, but he still made his impact felt in the mid-range game. He’s always been so strong from that area of the floor and continued to shine in that facet of his game.

DeMarcus Cousins continues to have an impact on the game.

The DeMarcus Cousins experience has been a blast to watch so far. He continues to help the Bucks and provide exactly what they need down low and he brought another positive game last night. He’d finish with seven points, but you’re able to see how big of an impact he has on the defensive side of the ball. The Bucks are going to continue to rely on him for that, as we all know how they’ll be without Brook Lopez for a while.

This Javonte Smart fella is fun to watch.

After signing a two-way contract with the Bucks on November 30th, Javonte Smart has started to receive his fair share of minutes. Last night, that continued to be the case. In 9:39 minutes of game action, he tallied six points on a perfect 3-of-3 from the floor. Two of those points came on a beautiful crossover move in the first quarter. Sure, he’s not putting up an extreme number of points, but that’s not what’s expected of him. He’s been putting together a nice stretch as of late and providing a real spark off the bench for the Bucks.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • With last night’s win, the Bucks have now won their last eight games against the Cavaliers. They’ve only lost once to them since the start of the 2018-19 season.
  • Milwaukee shot 46.5% from the floor and Cleveland shot 38.9%. The Bucks are now 5-0 when they have better FG% than opponent this season.
  • I really enjoy this Cavs team. When they drafted Mobley and signed Jarrett Allen to a contract extension, some people didn’t think that was the correct move. However, they’re showing that they can make it work this season and are becoming one of the most entertaining teams in the league.
  • Bobby continues to bring it night in and not out. Last night, he corralled in 16 total boards, as well as ten points. A lot of those rebounds turned into opportunities for the Bucks on the offensive side of the ball, which they took advantage of.
  • This was a fantastic move by Boogie on Mobley: