Milwaukee will be out to stop a three game skid Tuesday night but unfortunately after losing a close one to Houston last game, the task won’t be any easier. Cleveland come to the Bradley Center for the second time this season in white hot form, winning 18 of their last 19 games to sit second in the Eastern Conference standings.
Since blowing out the Cavs at home in their first meeting last season, the Bucks have lost five straight to Cleveland, by an average of 9.6 points. Stopping LeBron hasn’t gone to plan for Milwaukee in the first two match-ups this season, with James averaging 27 points, 6.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists.
LeBron’s fellow All-Star forward teammate Kevin Love will again prove a huge problem for the much publicised struggling center rotation. Averaging 14 rebounds per game against the Bucks this season, John Henson and Thon Maker will need to find some way of stopping Love on the glass. Specifically on the offensive glass where they allowed a staggering 8 offensive rebounds to Love last time they met.
The growing superstar rivalry of Giannis v LeBron has become must watch tv over the last 12 months and again will draw the focus of the basketball world to Milwaukee. Having already spoke about LeBron’s numbers against the Bucks this season it can’t be denied how seriously Giannis takes the opportunity to play the best in the world. In the Bucks two losses to Cleveland this season, Giannis has averaged 37 points and 8.5 rebounds.
Helping the Bucks in their quest for victory will be the return of three rotation players in Matthew Dellavedova, Tony Snell and Jason Terry. According to Jason Kidd all three will be on a minute restriction tonight and Dellavedova will get the start. A peculiar move to start the Aussie in a two point guard starting lineup but with the minute restrictions in place it is likely only a temporary move until Snell is ready to slot back into his starting role.
Khris Middleton will be looking to bounce back to form from the outside having only shot 5-17 from beyond the arc in the weekend back to back against Chicago and Houston. Scoring 29 against the Bulls and then 23 against the Rockets, Middleton had an impact on the game but time after time missed crucial open three pointers when the Bucks needed them most.
With a three game losing streak dropping the Bucks from 4th in the East to 6th, stopping the skid is paramount. With Cleveland in the type of form they are right now, winning this would be a monumental performance.
Kane’s Keys to Victory:
- Three point shooting: As mentioned above the main culprit over the weekend in bricking outside shots was Middleton. Having said that he wasn’t alone with team wide the Bucks shooting below 30% in both contests. Whilst they still managed to top 100 points in both games, their issues from deep came back to bite them. Middleton, Brogdon, Dellavedova, Bledsoe and Snell will need to take their opportunities and knock down open looks when they get them. Shooting over 40% from beyond the arc will go along way to victory.
- Greek God Mode: Anytime you are playing LeBron you are going to need something special to get over the line. In this case, the Bucks are again going to need a monster performance from their MVP candidate, Antetokounmpo. We know Giannis comes to play against Cleveland and if the Bucks win tonight, you should expect another 30 point double double from the Greek Freak.
- Offensive Glass: Second chance opportunities will kill you against a team as good as the Cavs. Robin Lopez tore apart the Bucks on Friday night with 6 offensive rebounds and time after time he was able to quell a Milwaukee run by getting a crucial rebound. I already mentioned Kevin Love’s recent form against the Bucks in this area of the game and it will again prove pivotal. Milwaukee simply MUST keep Love off the offensive glass. Keep him to under 3 rebounds on that end of the floor and they will be in a good position.
Follow Kane Pitman on twitter: @mkebucksaus.