It wasn’t always pretty, but a still-wounded Cavs squad slipped past a scrappy and possibly underrated New York Knicks last night to win their 8th straight, moving to 8-1. Tonight they square off against a team that’s been nursing injuries of their own, although without the hot start, as they visit the 4-5 Milwaukee Bucks, whose victories come against the Nets (twice), 76ers and Knicks.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks
When: 8:30 p.m.
Where: The place that Bucks’ ownership threatened to go Art Modell on their state government in order to get rid of.
How to watch: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Enemy Blog: Brew Hoop
Sorry Seattle. Sorry Wisconsin. You were both treated like chess pieces.
Anyway, on to to basketball.
Six things to watch for
1) Jabari Parker is still on a bit of a pitch count, although he’s been effective — on Tuesday, against the Celtics, he logged 8 points (4-6 FG) and 8 rebounds, then he sat out on Wednesday versus Denver, as the Bucks are, at this point, keeping him away from back-to-backs. But, they have been off for three days, so I’m guessing the Cavs will see a good dose of Parker and his sky-high potential. It’s becoming a kinder league to his skill set and I hope he’s every bit as talented as scouts seen him as, especially since he made that coward Kelly Olynyk look like a doofus on Tuesday.
2) LeBron took a beating last night against the Knicks. Of course, he was spectacular, scoring 31, to go along with 6 assists and 2 steals, but he was on the ground a lot, he played a lot, he led a comeback. I’d imagine that the Cavs are going to try to pounce on the Bucks early to attempt to get LeBron some rest, either on the sideline or, at least, allow him to stray away from an overly iso-heavy workload.
3) The Milwaukee Bucks are dead last in the league in rebounding, with 37.9 per game — they’re last in defensive rebounding, with 28.1 per game, and 19th in offensive rebounding with 9.8 per game. This gives a sizable advantage to the Cavs — 6th in rebounding with 46.8 per game — on the glass, and it gives Tristan Thompson the opportunity to have one of those games were he absorbs an inordinate amount of offensive boards. The Bucks miss Larry Sanders. Hell, we all miss Larry Sanders.
4) Bucks starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams is probably returning from injury.
5) Can J.R. Smith get it going? He’s only shooting 25 percent from three-point territory, so far this season. He gets too much space — plus the ball taken out of his hands too much — from big three iso situations to shoot this badly for an elongated time. The Bucks have speed and length, so tonight might not be the night … but maybe it will. He’s a wildcard. We don’t know. But, the upswing is coming sooner or later.
6) Can the Cavs keep scraping out wins, bouncing back from deficits, controlling games at the right times? It seems like they’ve transferred over some of that gritty, playoff run reinvention phase.
Fear The Sword’s Fearless Prediction
Love and TT thrive, LeBron takes its easy, Carter-Williams and Parker ease back in. I think it’s going to be a lazy game that the Cavs win 93-85.