The Milwaukee Bucks will meet the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena at 7:30 Friday night. In what looked like a possible key matchup for the Cavaliers playoff run earlier in the season has now become a desperation game. The Cavaliers can match their season-high losing streak of six games Friday night with a loss against the Bucks. It’s strange to think that these same two teams were fighting for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference just a little over a month ago.
Even though the Cavaliers have struggled on offense as of late, look for Friday to be a very high-scoring affair. In previous match ups this season the Cavaliers and Bucks have each scored 100 points or more in both (two) games. Both of those games, however, have been won by Milwaukee.
The Cavs and the Bucks, however, have since moved in opposite directions after the All-Star break. Both teams made roster moves before the trading deadline, but for very different reasons. Cleveland whisked away their best bench player in Ramon Sessions to the Los Angeles Lakers and released unproductive center Ryan Hollins. The Bucks, on the other side, traded away Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson to the Golden State Warriors for Kwame Brown, Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh. The Cavs move(s) symbolized the rebuilding process that has been addressed by trades dating back to last season while the Bucks are trying to make a push toward the playoffs this season.
Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena.
Cavaliers (17-31, 9-16 home):
Key offensive statistics: Averaging 42.4 percent from the file (29th overall in NBA), 70.8 percent from the free throw line (28th) and 43.0 rebounds (10th)
Key defensive statistics: Averaging 98.9 points allowed (25th), 46.0 field goal percentage (25th) and 36.1 three-point percentage (25th)
Player to watch: Manny Harris. Believe it or not, Harris is making the most out of his opportunities with the Cavaliers. A player, who earlier in the season was signing 10-day contracts with Cleveland, is now becoming a big piece on the Cavs bench. In the last five games Harris has averaged 8.4 points, 20.6 minutes and 4.4 rebounds. Harris knows that he’s competing with Donald Sloan, and possibly with the injured Daniel Gibson, for a spot on the Cavalier roster next season. Right now, he is proving his worth.
Bucks (23-17, 11-16 away):
Key offensive statistics: Averaging 98.1 points (8th), 79.0 free throw percentage (3rd) and 41.6 rebounds (19th)
Key defensive statistics: Averaging 98.7 points allowed (22nd), 45.1 field goal percentage (18th) and 44.7 rebounds (28th)
Player to watch: Monta Ellis, who scored 33 points in Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, has averaged 15.1 points and 5.2 assists in his seven games with the Bucks so far. I was surprised to find out that the Warriors had traded Ellis, who I think is one of the better scorers in the NBA. He makes very elusive moves when making his way to the basket and I think he’ll give the Cavaliers’ defense, particularly Kyrie Irving and Anthony Parker, some trouble on defense tonight.
Bucks – Ersan Ilyasova, back, questionable. Carlos Delfino, groin, doubtful. Kwame Brown, chest, expected to return late April
Cavaliers – Daniel Gibson, ankle, season. Anderson Varejao, wrist, expected to return late March/early April
Will the Cavaliers score more than 95 points tonight against a very porous Bucks defense?