Cavaliers

What’s the story, Swishbone? Cavs-Bucks, Behind the Box Score

Cleveland Cavaliers (56-22) 109
Milwaukee Bucks (32-46) 80
Box Score

What’s the story Swishbone?
What’s this you’re dreaming of?
Setting a Cavs record in a vict’ry is what’s up.
What’s the story Swishbone?
Should you take another shot?
It kinda seems that you should because you’re shooting hot.
Pull from deep now Swishbone!
Let’s wag another tail.

Sniffin’ out the playoffs with Swishbone on the trail.
Come on Swishbone!
What’s the story Swishbone?

So, yes, the Cavs won big Tuesday night in Milwaukee. J.R. Smith set a Cavaliers franchise record for three-pointers made in a single season, knocking down 7-of-11 from deep to give him 197 for the year, besting Wesley Person’s mark of 192, set during the 1997-98 campaign. Smith needed three makes to break the record; he got four in the first quarter alone. The ball found him early and often, and it was his shooting that set the tone for the evening. Smith’s efforts from downtown were complemented by Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and Channing Frye, who combined to hit eight threes.

Three-point shooting defined the Bucks’ evening as well, only in the complete opposite way. Milwaukee was without Khris Middleton and Jerryd Bayless, the only two players on the team making more than 35 percent of their threes (save Johnny O’Bryant, who is 1-of-1). Mind you, 35 percent is league average. The Bucks starting lineup and three-point percentages went thusly: 19-year-old rookie Rashad Vaughn (31 percent), Jabari Parker (26 percent), Giannis Antetokounmpo (21 percent), and Greg Monroe and Johnny O’Bryant (N/A). Cavs gladly packed the paint, and the Bucks may as well have been playing without the arc on the court.

The Bucks weren’t able to get much going on the offensive end aside from some long-limbed Giannis wizardry, and a bunch of misses gave way to a consistently aggressive Cavalier attack. The Cavs hit seven threes en route to a 33-17 first quarter lead, and they never looked back. LeBron James led the team with a mere 28 minutes played, every Cavalier finished with a positive plus-minus rating, and most everything worked. Kevin Love continued his hot shooting streak, Kyrie Irving returned from injury with an efficient outing, and this thing was decided by halftime. Head coach Tyronn Lue called this win his team’s most complete on both ends of the floor, though it was not immediately clear if he was including his predecessor’s time at the helm.

J.R.’s record-setting night will get plenty of attention — rightly so — but let the record show that he was the beneficiary of some superb passing.

It was a wonderful game, especially on the front end of a back-to-back. The Cavs play the Pacers in Indiana Wednesday. They should be well rested. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

197 — As covered above, J.R. Smith now has 197 threes on the season, most in Cavaliers franchise history. He sits at No. 7 in three-point makes on the year, and has made more than anybody not on the Warriors since January 1. The Cavs are just three games into April, but J.R. has hit 56 percent of his threes on the month. Always fun to see him get hot.

46 — Don’t look now, folks, but Kevin Love is shooting 46 percent (21-of-46) from deep in his last six games. He played a great 25 minutes in Milwaukee, totaling 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists. He exploded for 15 points in the first quarter, shooting 3-of-4 on threes and 5-of-7 overall. He was delightfully aggressive, taking threes from well beyond the arc and knocking shots down in defenders’ faces. He mixed in some nifty jumpers from the left block and just played a great game.

Two of his assists ended loudly. Here’s one:

And here’s the other:

78 — In a related story, LeBron shot a comical 78 percent from the field, going 7-of-9 en route to 17 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds. Over the last couple weeks he has had games in which he has shot 81, 78, 73, 65, 64, and 63 percent. He has been attacking the rim more and more, and the numbers are going up accordingly. An encouraging sign tonight: He took five jumpers and hit three of them.

42 — The Cavs scored 42 more points from the three-point line than the Bucks. Cleveland hit 18-of-36 threes while Milwaukee made just 4-of-16. The Bucks tried to make up for their lack of shooting by attacking the rim — they outscored the Cavs in the paint, 54-28 — but it wasn’t close to enough.

30 — The Cavs assisted on 30 of their 41 field goals. It was their sixth game of the year with at least that many helpers. They were often able to get the Bucks on their heels with one relatively simple action, and from there the ball just pinged around until it found an open man. While it was against an undermanned and overmatched opponent, this was a look at the Cavs offense at its very best. This makes four straight wins for the Cavs, including two on the road and two against playoff teams. The team might just be following LeBron’s lead and peaking just in time for the playoffs.