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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview: Joe Prunty, Part Deux

Bucks embark on their post-Adrian Griffin future

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In case you somehow missed it, the Milwaukee Bucks are moving on without the head coach that led them into the season — what better opponent to start the newest Joe Prunty era than the Cleveland Cavaliers at home?

Where We’re At

We’ve talked about the team on the court ad nauseam, especially in light of the middling around .500 record they’ve touted since 2024 began. Prior to Adrian Griffin’s dismissal, the Bucks scratched by two consecutive road wins against the Detroit Pistons. Why fire the coach after wins? Because the perimeter defense simply could not become more laughable, the bench utterly failed him (outscored 38-138 by the Pistons deep bench), all while having to run the starters huge minutes just to scratch by one of the worst teams in league history. For all those reasons, plus everything outlined in the reporting post-firing, Griffin’s time was up. Now, Joe Prunty takes over as interim head coach for a second time in team history to lead the troops while GM Jon Horst races to clean up the mess he made with the hire of a new full-time replacement (Doc Rivers is the favorite, but nothing is confirmed as of publication).

For the Cavaliers, the new year has brought them renewed hopes off the back of solid play. They’ve now gone 8-1 in their last nine all while missing two key starters in Evan Mobley and Darius Garland. The offense still moves at a glacial pace (23rd in the NBA overall), but the defense is one of the best around and has maintained its sterling position even down a talent like Mobley in the paint. Jarrett Allen is like a machine logging double-doubles and nabbing a few blocks along the way while Donovan Mitchell has taken on ever more scoring and creation duties for coach JB Bickerstaff. The last time these two teams met, the Cavs blitzed Milwaukee in a 40 point trouncing that likely pushed Griffin’s job over the edge. Tristan Thompson, who is somehow still in the league, just got popped for PED use and will be logging a 25 game suspension accordingly, so at least Milwaukee has that going for them.

Injury Report

Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as probable with that nagging right shoulder contusion, while Cleveland has Caris LeVert questionable (right wrist sprain) and Darius Garland (broken jaw), Evan Mobley (left knee surgery), Ty Jerome (right ankle sprain) and Tristan Thompson (PED suspension) as all out.

Player to Watch

Now that his forever enemy is gone, I’m curious to see how Brook Lopez performs. 2023-2024 has been a season in which Brook’s most notable moments on the court have been loudly complaining to the refs all game, literally just not boxing guys out on free throws, and generally having a crappy attitude (plausibly because he thought the coach was a buffoon setting things up so that Lopez would fail). A mantra like, “ding dong, the witch is dead” should be enough to put a smile back on Brook’s face, right? At the very least he should be trying to ball out to help justify having his brother cashing checks on the roster.

How to Watch

Bally Sports WI at 7:00 PM CST



Poll

Game 44: Against the Cavaliers, the Bucks will...

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Win big (by 10 or more points)
    (15 votes)
  • 41%
    Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (32 votes)
  • 11%
    Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (9 votes)
  • 27%
    Lose big (by 10 or more points)
    (21 votes)
77 votes total Vote Now

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