BACK IN MILWAUKEE
After sweeping their four-game homestand at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Wine & Gold get back on the road – visiting the venue where they took their last loss, facing the Greek Freak and Co. on Friday night at Fiserv Forum.
The Cavaliers rumbled through their four-game stay, beating all four foes by double-digits and collectively by an average of 16.5 points per. Portland was their last victim on Wednesday night, with Cleveland taking the lead late in the first quarter and never giving it back the rest of the way. The Cavs three All-Stars led the way, as the team improved to 8-1 at home, their best start since the 2016-17 season.
The only team with more home wins in the Conference is tonight’s opponent, with the Bucks bringing a 9-2 mark into the rematch. The Central Division leaders did, however, drop their most recent decision in Milwaukee – with Chicago getting 36 points from DeMar DeRozan and the Bulls weathering the Bucks late charge on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee handed Cleveland its only double-digit loss of the season nine days ago – with Brook Lopez leading both teams with 29 points, going 7-of-9 from deep to snap the Cavs three-game run in the series. The Wine and Gold host the Bucks before Christmas next month and again in late January.
ALLEN FINDING HIS FORM
The last time Cleveland faced off against Milwaukee, Evan Mobley started in the middle with Jarrett Allen out with an illness. And the rookie had another solid showing – finishing with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting, adding seven boards, two assists and a pair of blocks.
But on Friday night, he’ll be able to slide back over to his power forward spot, with Jarrett Allen returning to the middle – and coming into the contest on a roll.
In Wednesday night’s win, the All-Star big man notched his ninth double-double of the season, going off for 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting, leading both teams with 13 boards, adding a pair of assists and a steal.
Over the course of the four-game homestand, Mobley averaged 14.0ppg and 12.3rpg; Allen, 15.0ppg and 10.5rpg.
Whoever starts in the middle will have a difficult matchup against the Bucks, with Brook Lopez showing why he’s one of the league’s most unique big men – able to be deadly from beyond the arc while still being a load down low, leading the NBA in blocked shots coming into tonight’s contest.
Lopez killed the Cavs a week-and-a-half ago in Milwaukee, drilling three of his seven triples in the decisive third quarter – posting a season-high 29 points, his sixth game of 20-plus this season.
A HOLIDAY RETURN AFTER THE HOLIDAY
The Cavs were without their starting center last time these two squared off. But the Bucks were without their starting point guard. Both return on Friday.
Jrue Holiday has eased his way back into Milwaukee’s starting lineup after coming off the bench in his return from an ankle injury that sidelined him for four games. One of the league’s best defenders, Holiday doubled-up with 14 points and a game-best 11 assists in Wednesday’s loss to Chicago.
Holiday’s posted a dozen games of double-figure scoring against the Cavs in 32 head-to-head meetings, going 21-11 against Cleveland over the course of his 14-year career.
He’s also one of the main reasons Darius Garland has never really gone off against the Bucks. He’s been good against Milwaukee, netting double-figure scoring in every head-to-head meeting but one, but his 23-point outing in the last matchup was just his third game of 20-plus in 10 contests.
But Garland may not have ever come into Milwaukee on the heater he’s riding right now – averaging 31.7ppg over his last six games, shooting 53 percent from the floor and 54 percent from deep, handing out 8.0 assists per over that stretch.
His backcourt mate, Donovan Mitchell, is on a pretty nice run of his own – averaging 27.5ppg on 51 percent shooting from the floor over the course of Cleveland four-game win streak.