Cleveland Cavaliers – 101
Milwaukee Bucks – 118
The Cavaliers jumped out to an early 32-20 lead and looked to be ready to coast to another victory. Instead, their coasting resulted in a drubbing, as the Bucks came back to win 118-101.
The Cavs had active hands on defense tonight, in the sense that they spent a lot of time pointing at each other and then at the guy who just dunked on them, trying to figure out who was supposed to be guarding him. Things got so bad, Ty Lue benched the entire starting unit and went to a lineup featuring DeAndre Liggins, Jordan McRae, Mike Dunleavy, James Jones, and Chris Andersen to finish the third quarter. Watching the starters do things like this, it was hard to argue:
The Cavs’ defense provided little resistance as the Bucks attacked the rim for easy looks all night. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the Bucks with 34 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, five steals, two blocks, and all the dunks.
Jabari Parker added 18 points and Michael Beasley – MICHAEL FREAKING BEASLEY – had 17 points. You know things are bad when one of the best beat writers in the business didn’t even know the dude scorching your team was still in the league.
Things started out well enough, with LeBron shooting four of five for ten points and Kevin Love recording nine rebounds in the first quarter. The two Cavalier superstars connected on this early outlet pass.
Iman Shumpert provided his own highlight, with a bump, set, spike put-back from a Mike Dunleavy miss. (Please excuse the harsh language on this Tweet.)
But the early success didn’t sustain as LeBron had five turnovers in the second quarter and played lackluster defense throughout. J.R. Smith’s shooting woes continued as he went two for seven from the three point line. Kyrie Irving had a spurt of explosive scoring in the second quarter, but was unable to sustain the hot streak. Kevin Love opened the game with some great passing and rebounding, but struggled shooting the rest of the night and let Greg Monroe beat him for some easy buckets in the post. The bench unit for the Cavaliers struggled, with Iman Shumpert being a minus-21 on the game. Mike Dunleavy left the game after taking a shoulder to the back of his head.
In the end, it’s difficult to be upset with a November loss for the defending champions. Especially with how they’ve played lately. The Cavaliers may also have been looking ahead, as they face the Los Angeles Clippers this Thursday at Quicken Loans arena. Let’s look behind the box score at this Cavaliers loss and other action around the NBA.
43 – The number of rebounds by the Milwaukee Bucks compared to 35 from the Cavaliers. The Cavs came into tonight averaging the fourth most rebounds per game with 46.
16.5 – The Cavs’ starting unit’s NetRtg going into tonight. It was only a week or two ago this unit was pacing behind last year’s production. After a monster week, they’re now the 4th best 5-man lineup in the league (of units with more than 100 minutes played.) Tonight’s game won’t help this number, however, as most of the starting unit was minus-10 or more in this game.
15 – The number of steals for Milwaukee. The Cavaliers were careless with the ball all night, and an athletic lineup like the Bucks’ will make you pay for those mistakes.
36.1% – LeBron James’ three point percentage this season, after shooting 30.9% last season. It’s still too early to know if his shooting form has returned, but his three for eight performance tonight was another nice shooting night, even as he struggled elsewhere.
13 – The Golden State Warriors’ team NetRtg. This is up from 11.6 last year. They’ve played a fairly easy schedule and their lack of great depth could hurt them as the year moves on, but it already appears this team is gelling and dangerous.
39 – The age of Paul Pierce. And he looks everyday of it in this lowlight
The Cavs play the Clippers on Thursday night in what should be their biggest test so far this season. Let’s hope they provide more of a fight than they did tonight.