Author: Nick Osen
Coming off a solid road win in Orlando against the Magic, the Milwaukee Bucks played host to and defeated the the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night, 118-101. This was not just a divisional matchup, but also the first time new Bucks point guard Matthew Dellavedova faced off against his former team.
Tony Snell got things started for the home team, and this one was underway. After Milwaukee took a quick 5-0 lead, the Cavs scored 10 unanswered to lead 10-5, including a beautiful alley-oop from LeBron James to Tristan Thompson.
Giannis Antetokounmpo ended the 10-0 run for the NBA champs, who responded with an absolute poster slam from James. Rookie Malcolm Brogdon came in and provided instant offense with a textbook drive, but Cleveland answered right back with a three from J.R. Smith to lead 22-11 halfway through the first.
After the Cavaliers took a 27-13 lead, Greg Monroe and Jabari Parker led a 7-0 Milwaukee run to make it 27-20. As was the pattern early in the game, Cleveland responded back quickly with a tough three from Kyrie Irving and a fastbreak layup from LeBron.
The Bucks finished the first period strong with an 8-0 run, cutting the deficit to 32-30 after one.
Milwaukee opened the second quarter with a 10-7 run, taking the lead 40-39 for the first time since two minutes into the game. The Cavs offense went into a lull without Irving on the floor, and Milwaukee extended their lead to 46-39, also forcing back-to-back turnovers on Cleveland.
Kyrie had a 7-0 run by himself late in the quarter, cutting the Bucks’ lead to 51-50 at the 3:03 mark. Giannis took over the end of the first half, and the Bucks led 58-54 at the break, continuing to show that they can at least be competitive with anybody.
Giannis kept up his unbelievable play in the second half, including a steal off LeBron and an absolute throwdown on the other end, giving the Bucks a 72-65 lead. The energy of the team, and in the Bradley Center, was very tangible at this point.
With about four minutes left in the third period and the Cavs down double digits, Coach Tyronn Lue took out all the starters and put in a new five, including three players that rarely get minutes, in Deandre Liggins, James Jones and Chris Andersen.
By the end of the third quarter, Milwaukee led the defending NBA champs 92-74. Michael Beasley had 17, Parker had 18, and Giannis already had a whopping 29 points heading into the final quarter.
About a minute into the fourth, Mike Dunleavy took an elbow to the face, and Coach Lue put the starters back into the game after Dunleavy walked off the court. With Cleveland’s top five back in the game, the Bucks extended their lead to 22, making the score 103-81 at the 8:15 mark.
The Cavaliers’ starters were taken back out shortly after Milwaukee’s run, as the Bucks dominated the defending champs the entire second half.
This was a huge win for the Bucks (8-8), who continue to show that they really can compete with anybody in this league. Milwaukee will look to continue their win streak Thursday in Brooklyn, where they will face the Nets (5-12) at 6:30.