The Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Milwaukee Bucks tonight in preseason action, but will have to do so without LeBron James. James will miss the game to get some extra rest and Shawn Marion will start in his place. Kyrie Irving will also not play tonight and is out until at least Friday while he recovers from the ankle injury he suffered in Brazil.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Milwaukee Bucks
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
How Can I Watch: Fox Sports Time Ohio
Music: We Major - Kanye West featuring Nas and Really Doe
For whatever reason, the Cleveland Cavaliers have really struggled against the Bucks over the past few years. The Bucks has consistently pushed the Cavaliers to the brink and made games closer than they should have been. Last season, in particular, the Cavs seemed to be the better team on paper after Bucks center Larry Sanders didn't look like the same player he did when makes made the playoffs the year before. Now, with the Cavs in a whole stratosphere. we listen to some old Kanye with a top shelf verse from Nas and revel in the moment. CAVS MAJOR, HOMIE.
Point Giannis is a thing, at least for tonight. Bucks coach Jason Kidd said that Antetokunmpo will start at point guard and it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Giannis is 6'11" - which is obviously well above the average high for a point guard. And how will the Cavs defend him? Both Dion Waiters and Matthew Dellavedova give up several inches to "The Greek Freak" and that creates some passing lanes for Giannis. Of course, this all depends on who else the Bucks start.
Outside of LeBron sitting out, will we see any more minutes restrictions? The Cavs have a lot of veteran players (Marion, Mike Miller, Anderson Varejao, etc.) that don't necessarily need a lot of minutes in the preseason. One could argue that the Cavs would be better off giving minutes to younger players like Delly and Joe Harris to give them time to grow before their minutes are heavily restricted in the regular season. My guess is that we will see most everyone play int the third quarter, but besides Tristan Thompson and Waiters, no one else will see extended minutes in the fourth quarter. Ideally, that goes for Kevin Love as well - even if he is the only member of Cleveland's "Big Three" taking the floor tonight.
How will Tristan play? The Bucks, with John Henson and Sanders up front, are a good test for Thompson. He's looked outstanding through two preseason, pulling down boards left and right, running the floor and cleaning up misses. Henson can test Thompson on the boards. As for Sanders, when Thompson plays the five, is mobile enough to force Thompson to move his feet on defense and create his own shot on offense. It's not a perfect game to gauge where Thompson is out considering James and Irving are out, but it's a good start.
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction: Even without Irving, the Cavaliers should roll over the Bucks. Jabari, Giannis and Sanders make the Bucks one of the more intriguing bad teams in the league this year. The Cavs, however, are just far too good. Cleveland 101, Milwaukee 92.