The Cleveland Cavaliers picked up a solid 112-100 win on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks, who ended Cleveland’s eight-game winning streak just a few nights ago. Here is how the Cavs are trending following their ninth win in the last ten games.
Jarrett Allen recovered nicely. Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was dominant in the first half with 17 points on 8-8 shooting, but Allen clamped down defensively in the second half. Allen, who also had another double-double, kept Antetokounmpo to just five points on 1-4 shooting, forced four turnovers in the second half, and allowed the Cavs to mount a comeback.
Back to that double-double, which was Allen’s 14th straight. He finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds to go with two blocks. He was magnificent and showed why he deserves to be an All-Star. And, with two minutes left in the game and the Cavs offense in dire need of a bucket, Allen did what he does best: clean up at the rim.
Isaac Okoro is playing All-NBA defense. You wouldn't know it in the box score, but Isaac Okoro was magnificent against the Bucks. Okoro, who was celebrating his birthday, had more blocks and steals (4) than total points (3) but his impact on the game was immeasurable. Like last week against the Bucks, Okoro was playing stout defense on Damian Lillard and essentially took him out of the game. Okoro held Lillard to 22 points on 7-24 shooting including 2-10 from deep. Just before halftime, Okoro got that weak stuff outta here:
Isaac Okoro is not impressed by your step-back jumper pic.twitter.com/he18waKVSr— Tony Pesta (@Tony_Pesta) January 27, 2024
The stat line isn't always pretty, but the reality is that Okoro is an impactful player when he’s out there. Anything you get on the offensive end is a bonus, though it would be nice for him to make free throws at the very least. Regardless, Okoro has been a good defender this year and he showed that against Lillard again.
Donovan Mitchell’s leg or, something at the end of the game. With under a minute to go and the Bucks down nine, Khris Middleton dove for a loose ball and just happened to crash right into Mitchell’s lower body. That resulted in a pretty not scary-looking ankle or knee injury. Mitchell stayed in the game, inexplicably, but that did not look great.
Max Strus is still a little bit cold. For the third game in a row, Strus knocked down exactly two three-pointers. Which is encouraging! One of those threes was quite the heave late in the fourth quarter, but Strus finished with 11 points on 3-10 shooting He hasn't scored more than 14 points or hit more than two threes in a game since Jan. 3 against the Wizards. The fact the Cavs have done what they have done with Darius Garland and Evan Mobley out, along with Strus being cold shooting, is remarkable. But Strus still appears to be struggling, some.
Stock up: Damian Jones was not horrible
That title sounds condescending, but Jones was mostly fine against the Bucks. The 28-year-old had four points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in 12 minutes, including this emphatic swat:
The Cavs' backup big situation was already a little shaky even with Tristan Thompson not suspended, but Jones had mostly not seen the floor until this game against the Bucks. If he can provide even “ok” minutes off the bench, the Cavs will survive until Thompson comes back. Even if he continues to play fine, it may be prudent for the front office to sniff around for another backup center. But against the Bucks, Jones was fine. And being fine is a stock up for him.