LeBron Saves The Day: Cavs at Bucks Behind the Box Score

BtBS Behind the Box Score WFNY

Cleveland Cavaliers – 114

Milwaukee Bucks – 108

[Box Score]

The Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead, but it took a miracle three-pointer in overtime from LeBron James to secure the 114-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

J.R. Smith left the game in the second quarter and did not return with an injury to his hand. The Cavaliers were already without Kevin Love, who was resting a sore left knee, and facing a roster crunch due to Mo Williams and Chris Andersen taking up roster spots while injured. In the first quarter, it appeared the depleted roster would not be an issue, as the Cavaliers jumped out to an early and commanding 15 point lead. The Bucks fought back, closing the gap to four by halftime. The Cavs maintained a small lead through most of the game, but the Bucks erased a seven point deficit with less than two minutes to play to force overtime. Jabari Parker made the game-tying layup with fifteen seconds remaining. Overtime saw the teams trade leads before LeBron James drained a three from deep behind the three point line with 24 seconds left. The Cavs were able to hang on for the win.

Tristan Thompson was a force to be reckoned with in the first half. He owned the boards with eight rebounds and scored nine points before picking up his third foul late in the second quarter. That foul forced him to the bench and James Jones to enter the game. AS A CENTER. The Cavs’ lack of depth started to crack against the elite athleticism of the Bucks, as Jabari Parker had his way with Richard Jefferson on his way to 30 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo added 25 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, while the springy John Henson scored 14.

But it was LeBron James who shouldered the load for the Cavaliers. He scored 34 points with 12 rebounds and seven assists. The Cavaliers were missing the spacing that Love and Smith provide, and Kyrie Irving was off, shooting 8-23, though he still scored 28 points. This forced LeBron to shoulder the load, not only in scoring and playmaking, but in minutes. James played 47 minutes on the front-end of a back-to-back. Kyrie played 45. If Smith is going to miss any time, the Cavaliers may need to look at adding depth before the February trade deadline.

This was a fun game, as most Bucks games tend to be. The Bucks put on a show, with a number of “WATCH THIS BUCKS PLAYER EVISCERATE THE CAVS” type highlights.

But the Cavs have LeBron and the Bucks don’t.

And the kill shot..

The Cavs return to Cleveland to face these Bucks again Wednesday night. Matthew Dellavedova, now with the Bucks, will be receiving his championship ring, so it should be a fun night. Let’s take a look behind the box score.

8th – LeBron’s place on the NBA’s all-time NBA scoring list, passing Moses Malone during tonight’s game.

14th – The Cavaliers are 14th in the league in Rebound Percentage. This is a trend I’ve discussed before, but something that should be a strength on a team employing Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, and LeBron James has suddenly become a weakness. The Cavs were third in the NBA last season, grabbing 52 percent of available rebounds. That number is down to 50.3 percent this season. Much like the defense (which has slipped from 10th last season to 15th this season), one can assume that the team will ramp up the effort when the playoffs start. Still, this is a concerning trend, and one you hope to see the team work on.

36 percent – Delly’s three-point percentage this season, down from 41 percent in Cleveland last year. He’s been better of late, shooting 41 percent in December after only hitting on 32 percent of his three-point attempts in November.

30 – Points for Jabari Parker. He doesn’t get nearly the hype of draft-classmates Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid, but Parker may be as good as any of them. He and Wiggins have eerily similar per-36 minute stats, as shown below, and his true shooting has reached .552 this season, superior to Wiggins’ .534 on similar usage.

Wiggins / Parker80 percent – The Golden State Warriors have led for 80 percent of all second half minutes they’ve played this season. They’re a monster. They’re firing on all cylinders. But remember, if the Warriors beat up on the Cavs on Christmas, it doesn’t mean any more than it did last year when the Warriors won the regular season series. Regular season champs don’t get t-shirts with trophies on them.

It’s unfortunate the Cavaliers have suffered a recent rash of injuries, as it likely makes the Christmas Day rematch against the Warriors less of a litmus test for where both teams stand. But the Cavs have games against the Bucks on Wednesday and Nets on Friday before we get to the main attraction.

  • Allen P

    Basketball is a funny game. When the Cavs were up 18, I was just waiting for the momentum to swing. And then it did. All of a sudden they were standing around, no movement, taking last second bad shots; meanwhile the Bucks were making easy shots from the paint. It was frustrating to watch. LeBron playing 47mins in a December game is just . . . not good.

  • Harv

    A few things:

    – To me, the Bucks look a lot more like the Team of the ’20s than the Celtics or the “Wolves. They have 2 future dominant faces of the league, other young athletes and the right coach. They need a slick starting point guard, but the world doesn’t seem to have a shortage of those. Move Delly to the bench, a little more seasoning and watch out. This looks like the team that will eventually boot an aging LeBron out of the way in 3 years, maybe less. These kids do not fear LeBron.

    – I know why he feel he had to do it, but LeBron’s 4th reversion to pounding the ball through the clock and jacking 3s or waiting too long to trigger the offense was disheartening. If Parker’s layup doesn’t roll out or he doesn’t miss both FTs Cavs probably lose. Next year Parker cans both.

    – Of course Delly’s 3-point % is way down. He has to dribble before he hoists now. He never was J.R.

    – LeBron passing Moses at age 31 is ridiculous. Because Moses started at the same age and bullied, shoved, sweated and unrepentedly hogged the ball from point blank range for 21 years. And his record holding number of offensive rebounds did not result in Tristan-like handoffs to a teammate. I’m guessing 97% went right back up, often 3 in a row, until they went in. LeBron has the same points above the rim and away from the basket while still sharing the ball like few others in history. And we get to watch him every freakin’ night. Come to think of it, if I had to choose between: 1) a decent Browns team since ’99 together with a good Cavs team without LeBron ever playing here, vs. 2) status quo of Browns horrendousness and these 10 seasons of LeBron, decision is easy. I take status quo, the trophy, the sublime play.

  • Jeff Nomina

    Yeah when they started 8 of 15 from 3 I knew regression was gonna hurt em

  • Jeff Nomina

    Agree with all of this. Especially the stuff about the Bucks. Giannis / Jabari is a terrifying start. I’m a big Henson fan. If Middleton were healthy I think they’d be a pretty damn good team. They need more shooting, but wow.

  • RGB

    Dr. J wouldn’t trade Malone for the world.

  • Harv

    what about for World B. Free?

  • scripty

    I pray these guys are the 6 seed and not the 4 or 5

  • Allen P

    Well yeah that too . . . But the change in pace/aggression was noticeable

  • tsm

    Completely agree with Jeff and Harv. This could be the start of the next great team. They have so much length and athleticism, as well as an aggressive nature. The young guys will only improve. I see only injury or greed keeping them from supplanting the Cavs as the top team in the east in a few more seasons. Our window is right now, which makes it all the more important for Griffin to keep spending Gilbert’s money and overpay for an athletic big and a point guard. So far, Dunleavy has been a major disappointment. LeBron needs more help, especially off the bench, so he can remain fresh.

  • Believelander

    To be fair to to Wolves, Karl-Anthony Towns is better than any player on the Bucks, Wolves, or Celtics. Maybe Jabari Parker will be a few ticks better than Andrew Wiggins – remains to be seen. But KAT is the New Deal, Zach LaVine is exactly the kind of slick guard the Bucks need, and all three of their core pieces are 21 years old with enormous room for growth. The moment this team learns how to play defense or manages to land a marquee free agent, they are going to be serious trouble for a loooooong time.

  • Harv

    Agree that the ‘Wolves have big time potential, and I don’t get the writers are already drawing negative conclusions about Wiggins. And KAT is a force. But I wouldn’t say he’s clearly going to be a better player or bigger force than Giannis, whose ceiling is enormous and who seems to have picked a new way to dominate every time we see him. Both have HOF potential.

  • Harv

    the way Parker forced his way to the rim with no hesitation, like a complete alpha … just had Jason Kidd Psyche Job all over it. Right coach at the right time for the development of those young cheetahs.

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