The Milwaukee Bucks ended the calendar year of 2023 with a win against the Clevland Cavaliers, 119-111. It was the first win for the Bucks in Cleveland since Feb. 6, 2021, in a 124-99 win. Giannis Antetokounmpo had another 30+ point double-double with 30 points and 10 rebounds. Khris Middleton also had a double-double with 11 points and 11 assists while also snatching three steals in the effort. Damian Lillard had a strong second half as he finished the game with 29 points on 9-for-16 shooting. Jarrett Allen and Donovan Mitchell combined for 62 points for the Cavaliers, but the rest of the squad only put up 39 points on 18-for-58 shooting (31%).
Even with the star power of Giannis, Dame, and Donovan Mitchell, it was Jarrett Allen who stole the show in the first quarter. The former Nets center went 8-for-8 in the frame for 16 points to push Cleveland out in front by as many as eight points in the frame. The Bucks would battle to bring it within four, but a quick run at the end by the Cavs gave them a 37-31 lead heading into the second quarter. The first half of the second quarter was one to forget for the Bucks, as they had three turnovers and went 0-for-9 in the first half of the quarter and trailed by 15 points, 50-35, with 6:44 left. After that point, the Bucks outscored the Cavaliers 17-9, helping Milwaukee head into the locker room down just seven 59-52.
After the defense struggled early, Milwaukee was able to turn it on in the third quarter by forcing three turnovers in the frame to flip what was a 15-point deficit in the second quarter, into a 10-point lead with 4:06 left, 83-73. The Bucks would expand the lead as high as 15, 88-73. The Cavs would get it back within 10, but a foul by Caris Levert with 0.5 seconds to go gave the Bucks a 92-80 lead heading into the fourth. Even with that lead, the Cavaliers hung around during the fourth, as they were able to get it within four points with 4:31 left, 105-101 thanks to a hook shot from Jarrett Allen. The shot gave Allen his first 30-point game in his NBA career. Rookie Craig Porter Jr. had 14 points in the fourth quarter for the Cavs, but it wasn’t enough as free throws from the Bucks iced the game for Milwaukee, 119-111.
Point Brook with the cross and the lob for the lead! pic.twitter.com/ZtF0l6tClV— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 30, 2023
Behind-the-back Bobby.— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 30, 2023
Turning defense into offense for the 10-point lead. pic.twitter.com/jvpdaP6VBv
Stat That Stood Out
Over their last five games, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been a near top 10 team in three-point shooting at 38.1% on 46.2 attempts per contest. Despite that, the Bucks' defense clamped down on the outside shooting by Cleveland as they went 6-for-43 from beyond the arc (14.0%). It is the worst shooting performance from three-point range by the Cavaliers all season. Their worst before this was against the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 30, where they went 7-for-32 and lost 103-95.