Coming off of the thriller against Sacramento, the Milwaukee Bucks traveled to the Buckeye State to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Giannis Antetokounmpo out for the Bucks and the Cavs missing Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, it was clear that both teams would be short-staffed for tonight’s bout. One team played like it, and the other took advantage. The Cavaliers cruised to a 135-95 victory.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Bucks got off to a slow start—and that’s putting it lightly. Malik Beasley hit a layup in the game’s early minutes, and then the Bucks failed to score again until the 5:40 mark of the first quarter. Conversely, Jarrett Allen and Donovan Mitchell did a good bit of scoring, leading to an embarrassing 22-2 deficit. The Bucks were able to knock down some shots to close out the quarter, but the Cavs still held a 32-22 advantage after one.
In the second, Georges Niang caught fire to help Cleveland extend its lead. Cameron Payne converted a 3-pointer and a pair of midrange shots to try to keep the Bucks alive, but the Cavs’ lead was never in doubt. Cleveland took a dominant 66-41 advantage into the half.
The Cavs picked up where they left off out of the locker room, with Allen and Max Strus converting early layups. Damian Lillard and Brook Lopez buried some jumpers here and there, but Cleveland’s lead continued to expand. In the latter stages of the third, the Bucks faced a 40-point deficit for the first time this season. That seemed to trigger the white flag for Milwaukee, as Thanasis Antetokounmpo, A.J. Green and Chris Livingston checked in.
By the fourth quarter, pretty much everyone who wasn’t being paid had checked out of this mess. The Cavs kept the hot-handed Niang on the floor, and he finished with a season-high 33 on an insane 13-for-14 from the field. Jae Crowder—who suited up for the first time since November—used the garbage time to get some shots up, and he finished with 15 points. Cavs won by 40.
Stat That Stood Out
The Bucks’ starters had a horrific shooting performance tonight. The starting five scored just 38 points combined on a dreadful 17-for-47 from the field. Khris Middleton went 1-for-10, Beasley went 1-for-6 and Dame went 7-for-20. Just gross.