Giving consistent effort has been probably the largest issue facing the Cavaliers this season. That issue popped up again Tuesday, but unlike other games, it did not sink the Cavaliers.
After a strong first quarter that saw the Cavs build a 39-28 lead, the Bucks outscored Cleveland 39-26 in the second quarter, resulting in a 67-65 Milwaukee lead at halftime. Even though Cleveland blew a 13-point lead in the second, it was still just a one possession game. While it certainly was not an ideal situation given the double-digit lead earlier in the quarter, a two-point deficit was manageable.
Coming out of halftime, the Cavaliers found the defensive intensity that they lost in the second quarter, rotating more quickly and putting more consistent pressure on ball handlers
Offensively, Cleveland rectified their second quarter ball security issue, turning the ball over just three times in the second half. Naturally, this allowed Cleveland to develop an offensive rhythm. Dwyane Wade also played a large part in the Cavaliers’ offensive success in the second half, as he played point guard for the majority of the fourth quarter. For the second straight game, Derrick Rose struggled mightily, scoring 10 points on 4-10 shooting with four turnovers to just one assist. It was clear that things ran more smoothly with Wade at the helm.
Kevin Love was spectacular, putting up a season-high 32 points and 16 rebounds. LeBron James pitched in 30 points and nine assists
One of the largest positives from Tuesday’s game was that J.R. Smith got it going. The guard scored 20 points on 7-12 shooting. Smith breaking out of his slump will go a long way towards improving the Cavs as a whole.
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo was unstoppable again, scoring 40 points to add to his already impressive 2017-18 season.
All in all, this was a much-needed win for the Cavs, who play again Thursday at Houston.