What’s up with the Bucks?
Grayson Allen’s suspension aside, the Milwaukee Bucks should be feeling pretty good about themselves going into an important Eastern Conference matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Bucks (30-19) have won three straight, two of which are versus formidable teams in the Chicago Bulls and the Memphis Grizzlies.
Their most recent win came at the expense of the Sacramento Kings—in a game where Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t even have to suit up for.
The reigning finals MVP is getting a ton of help, that’s why. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday have been consistently good, as expected. What they probably didn’t expect, with Brook Lopez missing a bulk of the season, is the steady play of Bobby Portis. He’s been getting it done as the Bucks’ fourth top player. Portis will be tested heavily against the Cavs’ elite bigs.
What’s up with the Cavaliers?
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the basketball version of a swollen, beat-up boxer who just won’t give up. After a surprisingly great start this season, the Cavs lost Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio to season-ending injuries.
Both Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, a tall pair that the league has no answers to, also missed a couple of games here and there due to injuries.
Still, Cleveland is standing tall with a 29-19 win-loss record, without any hint of grogginess. They’ve won seven of their last eight, even with the latest haymaker to hit them in the gut: an injury to Lauri Markkanen.
Some of the success should be credited to Darius Garland, who somehow acquired Sexton’s scoring acumen and Rubio’s classic playmaking. A lot of it should go to the coaching of J.B. Bickerstaff and the overall underdog mentality that the Cavs have embraced.
Storyline to watch out for
The reigning champs going against this season’s biggest surprise story—that’s a storyline that’s compelling enough. Milwaukee has a big enough target on their backs, deservedly so, and their games are litmus tests for how legit a team is.
The Bucks got Round 1 with an eight-point win in their first meeting. The Cavs will be gunning to equalize their head-to-head record.
Both Antetokounmpo (knee) and Jarrett Allen (illness) are game-time decisions, but if both are able to suit up, it’s going to be a Godzilla vs. Kong battle.
Garland is also on a personal quest to send himself to his first All-Star Game. Expect him to be extra as he goes against the Bucks’ defense.