The growing pains the Cavaliers are going through were once again evident in the first half against the Milwaukee Bucks. However, even with some clear issues it’s encouraging to see the Cavs get out ahead of one of the East’s best teams on the road in the first half.
The Bucks length at almost every position makes them one of the few East teams capable of disrupting things on the defensive end. While the three point shooting wasn’t there for much of the first half, the post ups and cutting plays executed by the team helped them generate consistent buckets after a slow start.
In the second half, the Cavs found their groove. They reduced the number of turnovers and started manipulating the Bucks defense by utilizing the pick and roll. Kyle Korver acted as the accelerant to some third quarter pyrotechnics by going supernova from behind the line.
Once the threes started dropping for the Cavs, the night was over for the Bucks. The team was able to leverage the outside shooting into high quality looks off of cuts and the pick and roll.
Overall it was a strong game from everybody in the rotation. Outside of the aforementioned awkward start, the team found a groove and was able to execute at a high level. LeBron didn’t need to work too hard, but was outstanding cutting off ball and roaming defensively. For all the concerns regarding the guard position in the starting lineup, the trade-off may eventually be worth it as he appears maximized on both ends of the floor. Even if he plays high minutes, the intensity of those minutes is significantly less than it’s been throughout the last three seasons.
- This isn’t breaking news, but the Bucks have a crazy amount of length. The starting lineup struggled early dealing with the Bucks ability to take away driving lanes. Until they started going to Kevin Love in the post and relying on his ability to draw attention, the team struggled to generate open looks.
- The Cavs emphasized getting Love touches early in the game. While he wasn’t necessarily shooting on each touch, a lot of the action involved him getting the ball at some point. In return, he battled for position routinely and was rewarded for his efforts with plenty of touches and trips to the line.
- When the Cavs go on a run, it’s incredible to see how many strong decision makers they have. The vision of LeBron James is already well known. But the supplemental playmaking that Wade, Rose, Smith, Love and even Crowder is really impressive. The Cavs won’t be able to rely as heavily on one on one possessions leading to kick outs as they did in the past. But the basketball IQ on the team could enable them to do some impressive things when they put it all together.
- Giannis is incredible. The Bucks are constructed in a way that could make them threatening to the Cavs, especially as Antetokounmpo continues his ascension to super-stardom. He finished with a LeBron-like line of 34 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.