Coming up short
Cleveland’s defense was a weak point tonight. They forfeited 126 points, the most of any opponent since allowing 130 to the Houston Rockets on Dec. 18.
Jarrett Allen continued his double-double streak with 21 points and 12 rebounds but his usual two-way impact felt less... impactful. He was caught in the path of a raging bull as Giannis Antetokounmpo punished him for a game-high 38 points and 18 rebounds.
Allen has been anchoring Cleveland to the best defense in the NBA as of late. But, when you run into a player such as Giannis, these things tend to happen.
As for Donovan Mitchell, a 23-point scoring night wasn’t enough to match Milwaukee’s output. The Bucks played a drop-coverage all night, daring Mitchell and the Cavaliers to beat it. Mitchell shot just 2-of-11 from downtown, unable to crack the code.
This all comes back to the defensive end, however. Without stops, the Cavaliers rarely had an opportunity to run in transition or semi-transition. Instead, they faced a Milwaukee team that was prepared for them on each possession.
It wasn’t all bad, however. Sam Merrill and Georges Niang combined for 26 points on 6-of-12 three-point shooting. More importantly, the Cavs never quit. They rallied back to apply pressure on Milwaukee multiple times after trailing by as much as 21 points. Ultimately, they just couldn’t get over the hump.
So, an eight-game win streak reaches its conclusion on the road against the second-best team in the Eastern Conference. All things considered, the Cavs should be feeling alright.
On Friday, they get another crack at the Bucks. Their final match of the season should be a good one with both teams learning from their previous meetings.