1. Using a 15-5 third quarter run the Cleveland Cavaliers was able to run away from Milwaukee as they claimed their first road win of the year. Led once again by LeBron James who had a relatively quiet yet impactful game with 24 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists the Cavs had an opportunity to open up their trick bag to overpower the young Bucks. James did have another spectacular shooting night going 10 of 16 and hitting 2 of his 4 three point attempts. His defensive performance also can’t be overlooked here. While Giannis Antetokounmpo did have a VERY impressive night (in which we’ll talk about later) James’ work on that end played a huge part in suppressing the rest of the Bucks making it easier to pull away.
Speaking of low-key nice performances Kevin Love (the freaking king of low-key nice performances) continues to fly under the radar of being arguably the second most consistent player on this squad with a 17-12-6 showing with 2 blocks. Love got off to a fast start as he quickly noticed the advantage he had over Thon Maker who started in the post for the Bucks and shot out to an 11 point first quarter. Kyle Korver was a bit of a different story. After a pretty quiet first half the gunslinger git loose in the third quarter and finished with 17 points going 5 of 6 from deep. His performance sparked a second half in which the Cavs went 9 for 15 from beyond the arc.
2. Cleveland played a very balanced game last night. They scored six in double figures in a game that featured fine play from Derrick Rose who finished with 12 including going 6 of 6 from the foul line (the Cavs as a whole went a perfect 17 for 17 from the line), Jae Crowder finished with 14 while flying around the court and made life especially hard for most of the Bucks and Jeff Green whose aggressive yet smart play guided him to 10 points. Offensively this was just a good night for the Cavs. Along with going perfection from the line they shot 54% from the field and 42% from deep.
However, in a development that we’re not very used to seeing Cleveland played amazing defense. On it’s face it would appear that they employed the age old tactic of letting the top guy get his while shutting off everyone else. While this is essentially what they did it is a bit trickier doing it against a team with such athletic and skilled pieces but Cleveland did it. We’ve mentioned the contributions of a few of the Cavs in this department but this was truly a top to bottom effort. Tristan “Trash Gawd” Thompson-Kardashian provided his trademark energy on that end grabbing some boards and challenging shots at the rim. J.R. “The Pipe” Smith had an off shooting night but was able to defend well on the perimeter (which is strange because normally as his shot goes so does his defense) and Iman Shumpert contributed well in his 13 minutes. There may not be much argument that Cleveland is a better team but this was an impressive win. And with a long season ahead it helps that they can find various ways to beat good teams.
3. The boy is a freak, the boy is a super freak! Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo CUT….THE…..EFF…UP! The Freak riding the momentum from his electrifying season opener returned with another masterpiece putting up 34-8-8 with 3 steals and a block on an unbelievable 15 of 22 from the field. He was in a word, unstoppable. He lived in the lane, got the shots he wanted, ran the floor like a dang gazelle and even facilitated. This is a guy who showed little to no reluctance or apprehension in facing a superior team. He relished it and took on the task without batting an eye. Unfortunately, it takes for than one guy to win a game. And that’s where the Deer ran into trouble.
On a bright spot Malcolm Brogdon had a solid night tossing in 16 points on 50% shooting and 2 steals. Unfortunately he and Freak were the only two Bucks in double figures. Tony Snell had 9 with some pretty sweet shooting but they suffered as a whole from beyond the arc shooting on 11 of 34 from downtown and an even worse 4 of 19 when taking away Snell’s and Brogdon’s showing. Other sources of consistent scoring has been a constant hurdle for this group. Khris Middleton is normally that guy but was rendered ineffective tonight as he could only muster 8 points on 3 of 10 although he did toss 5 assists. Greg Monroe didn’t look too bad going for 8 and 6 and Maker continues to show promise on the offensive end finishing with 7 points but for what they gave away defensively it more or less evens out at best. The Bucks was in this one for a long time. It wasn’t until the aforementioned 3rd quarter run that things got away from them. But if this a team that wants to contend for a conference title they have to find a way to keep pace in games like this against teams like this.