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Cavs Drop Fifth Straight, Fall in Milwaukee 113-98

The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-5) entered in Wednesday night's contest with the Milwaukee Bucks (10-3) on a four-game losing streak after starting the season 8-1. Part of the losing streak has been due to injuries. Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Dean Wade have all missed time, and the latter two would not play in Wednesday's game, as Allen was dealing with a non-COVID-19 illness while Wade was out with a knee injury. Another part that has played into the Cavs recent woes is their in-ability to start games strong. They dug themselves into too many holes they couldn't recover from over the past week and a half, and they would look to start fast against the 2021 NBA Champions on a cold November night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

And start fast they did, as with 7:29 to go in the first, the Cavs forced Milwaukee to take the first timeout of the game with a 16-9 led. Evan Mobley started off strong with six points, going 3/3 from the floor, and Mitchell chipped in five. Giannis Antetokounmpo only had two points in this period, and they came from the free-throw line.

The teams would mostly trade baskets coming out of the first timeout for the next three minutes of game action. With 3:57 to go in the first, Mitchell had 12 points, and the Cavs lead sat at 27-23. For the Bucks, Brook Lopez had 11 points on 3/3 from behind-the-arc at that point in the game.

For two teams who came in the Top 5 in defense in the NBA (The Bucks No. 1 and the Cavs No. 4), the first quarter had anything but defense. The Cavs led 37-34 after one. Cleveland shot 14/22 (64%) from the field while Milwaukee shot 12/21 (57%). The Bucks outshot the Cavs from the three-point line as they made 7/12 (58%) opposed to the Cavs' 4/9 (44%). "Spida" finished the first 12 minutes leading all scorers with 16 points.

Two three's by Darius Garland, who was coming off his magnificent 51-point performance Sunday against Minnesota, opened up a 45-37 Cavs advantage with 9:32 left to go in the half. With 6:49 left in the first half, Antetokounmpo only converted 1 field goal, a tip off of a missed basket of his own, and the Wine and Golders held a five-point lead at 49-44.

With 3:34 to go, isaac Okoro threw down a thunderous dunk off a steal to give the Cavs a three-point lead at 54-51. Milwaukee would pick up a basket by Jevon Carter before the two teams would go to a TV timeout with 2:57 left in the half; the Cavs clinging to a 54-53 advantage.

With 1:45 to go in the half, Mitchell would score his first points of the period, using a Mobley screen to get open on a mid-range jumper. The two teams would go into the locker room with Milwaukee up one, 61-60.

The story of the first half had to do with Antetokounmpo and rebounding. While the back-to-back MVP in the 2019 and 2020 seasons only scored six points on 4/8 from the free-throw line and 1/4 from the field in half No. 1, the Bucks outrebounded the Cavs 24-12, including a 7-2 advantage for the Bucks on the offensive glass. For Cleveland, Mitchell, Garland and Mobley all got to double digits in the scoring column, but the biggest story may have been the job Lamar Stevens, who was replacing Allen in the starting lineup, did on Antetokounmpo. Stevens was the "Greek Freak's" primary defender in the half, and he and his teammates did the best job you could ask for on the best player in basketball and forced his teammates to make plays, which they did to their credit.

After a high-scoring first half, the Bucks were the ones who jumped on the Cavs early in the third. Two three's by Lopez helped the Bucks begin the quarter on a 12-3 run with 8:41 to go in the third. Off the J.B. Bickerstaff timeout, the Bucks would expand their lead to 15.

With 5:32 left in the quarter, the Cavs had been outscored 20-6 at that point in the quarter. At 5:10 in the quarter, Kevin Love would hit a three, his first shot attempt of the evening. A Lamar Stevens basket would cut the lead down to 10, but the Bucks would quickly get it back up to 15, and with another Lopez three, his seventh of the evening with 3:51 to go in the third, Bickerstaff called for time again. Up to this point, Antetokounmpo had 12 points, Lopez had 29, and the Bucks led 86-71.

Five quick points from former Cavalier George Hill extended the lead to 20 with two minutes to go in the third. Antetokounmpo, who leads the league in "and-one's", had a nice and-one over Mobley with 1:13 to go in the period. The Greek Freak would make five field goals in the third to give him 16 points through three, and his team a 17-point lead at 95-78.

Besides the defense, the problem for the Cavs in the third was after scoring a combined 33 points in the first half, Garland and Mitchell only scored six in the third, with all six coming from No. 10. The Cavs would need another fourth quarter performance like they had against Minnesota to come back into the game.

With 7:13 to go, the Bucks would call a timeout after a 13-5 Cavs run that cut the lead to 100-91. With five minutes left, the Bucks would extend their lead to 105-91 and never look back, defeating the Cavs 113-98.

Key Stats:

  • Darius Garland- 23 points (8/20), eight assists

  • Donovan Mitchell- 23 points (7/19), three assists

  • Evan Mobley- 20 points (9/14), seven rebounds

The Cavs will take on the Charlotte Hornets from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Friday. Tip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.


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