In what is becoming “classic Bucks’ fashion”, Milwaukee had to fight hard down the stretch against a team that should’ve been put away much earlier. The Cleveland Cavaliers found themselves down 20 at the half but a barrage of third and fourth quarter threes from their starters and Larry Nance Jr. made it a game in the final minutes. The margin got as narrow as three points but the Cavs regressed to their mediocre ways in the final couple minutes and the Bucks showed why they are running the East, winning 119-110.
The Bucks seemed to come out unaffected by their Thanksgiving festivities and owned Cleveland in every facet of the game in the first half. Milwaukee shot 58% from the field with seven threes compared to the Cavalier’s 42% and five threes. It had all the appearances of a game the Bucks would finally annihilate their opponent like they should and we could move on with our day.
Low and behold, just like nearly every other team that steps on the court with Giannis and company, Cleveland shot out of their minds in the second half. A team that averages ten threes a game had twelve in the second half alone and close the gap in the blink of an eye behind a 42-point third quarter. The nerves settled in when the run continued through much of the final period.
Luckily, Cleveland has little identity and therefore not much of a plan in a close game. The Bucks, however, are on the entirely opposite end. Especially with the return of Khris Middleton, Milwaukee knows how to finish a game. To be fair, a lot of that plan is just given the ball to Giannis on the offensive end. Still, defense is just as important and they showed how powerful their defense can be when they need it.
In the final few possessions when the Cavs absolutely needed a shot, Giannis showed up in a big way. On offense, he was relentless with the finish. After missing a pair of bunnies, the Freak had a putback dunk that sent the crowd into silence. On the other end, he tied up Larry Nance Jr. for a jump ball that Giannis won and picked Collin Sexton’s pocket to secure the victory.
Giannis extended his double-double streak to 19 straight games, still chasing Bill Walton’s 34 to start a season. He finished with 33/12/2 with a pair of blocks and steals and no fouls. The rest of the scoring was fairly evenly spread out with George Hill as the closest to an outlier. Hill had 18 points on 4-6 from deep in his first game back from back soreness. Khris Middleton, in his second game back, was an efficient 5-10 shooting with 12 points.
The Cavaliers got the entirety of their scoring from seven players despite eleven players seeing minutes. Jordan Clarkson was the only Cav on the scoreboard in single digits. As a team, Cleveland racked up 17 threes, a season-high.
Bucks’ fans have a lot of streaks to keep track of right now. Along with Giannis’ double-double streak, the team is on a 10-game win streak, their longest since the 1985-1986 season. They also extended their 100-point streak to 43 games, still chasing the record of 63 games set by the Rockets in the 2016-2017 season.
Milwaukee is now 9-2 on the road and 16-3 overall to remain on top of the Eastern Conference. The Bucks will have a quick turn around as they will travel tonight back from Cleveland to Milwaukee for a Saturday night matchup with the Charlotte Hornets. Tip is set for 7:00 p.m. CT.