Cleveland Cavaliers Preview: Cavs vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Dec 14, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives the lane against Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings (3) in the third quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

It may have been said enough, but this statistic cannot be stressed enough. The Cleveland Cavaliers have played atrocious basketball against Central Division foes in the past two seasons, compiling a record of 3-21 against their rival counterparts. Again, the Wine and Gold haven’t won in that 24-game span since February 21 against the Detroit Pistons and have dropped their two contests against the Milwaukee Bucks this season by a total of seven points. A heart-breaking three from Brandon Jennings and a comeback that came up short defines the two losses, and I don’t see things changing anytime soon. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. at BMO Harris Bradley Center and the game and can be watched on Fox Sports Ohio in the Cleveland area. You can listen to the radio broadcast on WTAM (1100 AM) or WFUN (970 AM). Here are some statistics to get you ready for the game:

Cavaliers (5-23, 2-14 away)

Offensive Efficiency – 97.2 (29th)

Pace – 94.6 (15th)

Turnover Ratio – 14.4 (21st)

Effective Field Goal Percentage – 46.1 (28th)

Defensive Efficiency – 106.7 (28th)

Average Points – 93.9 (23rd)

Average Rebounds – 41.9 (16th)

Average Assists – 19.3 (29th)

Average Points Allowed – 100.3 (23rd)

Bucks (14-11, 7-5 home)

Offensive Efficiency – 98.1 (26th)

Pace – 96.3 (6th)

Turnover Ratio – 13.2 (6th)

Effective Field Goal Percentage – 46.3 (27th)

Defensive Efficiency – 99.9 (9th)

Average Points – 95.6 (20th)

Average Rebounds – 43.1 (11th)

Average Assists – 21.7 (16th)

Average Points Allowed – 96.6 (12th)

Last time the Cavaliers matched up with the Bucks, point guard Monta Ellis went off on the Cavaliers for a season-high 33 points. Being without Anderson Varejao, the Cavs are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, and they go up against a duo in Ellis and Brandon Jennings tonight in Milwaukee. Did I mention that the Cavs would be facing another Central Division opponent tonight? Jennings was able to bury the Wine and Gold in the final seconds of a game earlier this season, and three games ago he hit his season-high of 34 points against the Pacers. The way things have been for the Cavaliers on the defense side of things lately makes this game unpromising for Cleveland fans.

The Cavaliers bury themselves in the second half, and we saw that at its best on Friday night against the Pacers. Indiana put 33 points on them in the third quarter, resulting in an 11-point swing for the away team. Right now the Cavs rank 28th in the league in second-half points allowed per game with a mark of 50.1. Over the last three games, they rank second-to-last with giving up 56.0 points in the final 24 minutes. The team just looks gassed in the second half, and that’s where the inexperience really starts to show. This team can’t compete for four quarters, and a lot of it has to do with how the players on the bench have responded to extra playing time. Cleveland ranks 29th in the NBA in bench efficiency and 27th in bench points with 25.1 per game. C.J. Miles has been the only consistent player as of late, and with the Milwaukee bench putting up 37.0 points per game (8th in the NBA), things could get ugly once second units come out.

Topics: Anderson Varejao, C.J. Miles, Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving

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