GameDay Preview: Cavs vs. Bucks

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Brandon Jennings, Alonzo Gee
David Liam Kyle/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Cleveland Cavaliers (11-32) will take on Central Division foe Milwaukee Bucks (22-18) for the fourth and final time this season. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET.

In the last two games against the Bucks, Cleveland has held them to a combined .395 (64-162) shooting from the field, which includes a .257 (9-35) mark from behind the three-point line.

The Cavs are coming off their second straight win at The Q after defeating the Boston Celtics, 95-90, on Tuesday. In the victory, Cleveland held Boston to .381 (32-84) shooting from the field, including .217 (5-23) shooting in the fourth quarter. The Cavs are now 5-1 when holding their opponent to less than .400 shooting from the field. The Cavaliers also outscored the Celtics 25-17 in the final period.

Milwaukee comes into tonight's contest riding a three-game winning streak. It's been a little more than two weeks since Milwaukee and coach Scott Skiles parted ways, and the Bucks have responded well under interim head coach, Jim Boylan.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - Dion Waiters, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Anderson Varejao

Bucks: PG - Brandon Jennings, SG - Monta Ellis, SF - Ersan Ilyasova
PF - Luc Mbah a Moute, C - Larry Sanders

Injuries: (Cavs) - Anderson Varejao, (Vastus Medialis Split/Surgery, Out), C.J. Miles, (Illness, Questionable)
(Bucks) - Marquis Daniels, (Illness, Probable), Doron Lamb (Left Ankle Sprain, Questionable)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

The Bucks lead the Cavaliers in the all-time series, 112-78, including a 64-31 mark in games played in Milwaukee. The teams are knotted up at 47 games apiece when playing in the Cavs home arena.

In their previous meeting on Dec. 22 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the Cavs led wire-to-wire and held the Bucks to just .392 (31-79) shooting from the field, including .200 (4-20) from beyond the arc, and an opponent season-low 82 points. In the 94-82 victory, Dion Waiters had a team-high 18 points on 9-17 (.529) shooting from the field and five rebounds in 27 minutes, while Tristan Thompson (14 points and 14 rebounds) and Tyler Zeller (11 points and 10 rebounds) each recorded a double-double.

Key to the Game/Key Matchups

Key to the Game

Defensive Intensity
The Wine and Gold have turned up the defensive intensity, which showed on Tuesday against the Celtics when the Cavaliers forced 18 turnovers and scored 20 points off of Boston’s miscues. Over the last six games, Cleveland has forced 17.2 turnovers per game, while scoring an average of 19.2 points off of their opponent miscues. In fact, they have forced at least 18 turnovers in four of the last six games and rank 5th in the NBA in opponent turnovers per game at 15.7.

That kind of defensive pressure will have to continue tonight as the Bucks have now scored 100+ points in five of eight games under coach Boylan, winning all five and improving to 12-3 on the season when scoring in triple digits.

Key Matchups

Cavs backcourt vs. Bucks backcourt
Both teams boast offensively-gifted backcourts. The matchup between the Cavaliers' backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters versus Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis should dictate the tempo of the game.

Irving, who was recently named an All Star, has scored at least 25 points in four of his five career games against Milwaukee, averaging 25.0 points on .528 shooting, including .550 from deep and .952 from the foul line, 33.2 minutes per game. Waiters comes into tonight's contest averaging 14.6 points per game, the second most among NBA rookies.

Jennings and Ellis are among the top scoring backcourt duos in the league, combining for 37.5 points per game. Not only can they score, but the pair also creates opportunities for their teammates, ranking first (Jennings, 5.8) and second (Ellis, 5.5) on their team in assists.

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FSOhio HD, NBA League Pass
Radio: WTAM 1100, XM 221, Sirius 94, NBA League Pass Audio

Tonight's Promotions

  • Theme: Kids Postgame Free Throws
  • Giveaway: Tristan Thompson Bobblehead Giveaway (first 15,000 fans)
  • Family Packs: Includes four Cavs tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas starting as low as $79 – or $19.75 per person, for a $41 savings! Buy Tickets
  • Friday Night Out: Grab a best friend, girlfriend or just someone from the office and enjoy two tickets plus a loaded ticket value starting at $50. Buy Tickets