Evan Mobley has a career night as Cavs beat Bucks without Giannis
CLEVELAND – Cleveland and Milwaukee split their season series with each team keeping service at their home court as the Cavaliers beat the Bucks 114-102 Saturday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Cavaliers improved to 29-19 on the season while the Bucks dropped to 29-17.
The Bucks are now 6-5 on the year when playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed his fifth straight game with a sore left knee. Jrue Holiday led the Bucks with 28 points and 10 assists.
Here are some takeaways from the game:
Cavaliers turn to Evan Mobley and Darius Garland
After a disappointing loss Friday night to essentially the Golden State Warriors reserves, the Cavaliers rebounded against the Bucks by running their offense through Evan Mobley, a 7-foot two-year-old. Mobley came into the game averaging 14.6 points on 10.6 field goal attempts per game and surpassed those totals at halftime, when he had 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
Darius Garland scored 10 points in the third quarter, including a streak of six in a row at one point, but Mobley also had six of his own. The up-and-coming big man continued his attack in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 of his career-high 38 in the final frame.
Garland then took the lead with a pair of Bucks turnover baskets to keep the visitors at arm’s length in the final minutes.
Mobley was aggressive throughout the game, even with Brook Lopez able to patrol the paint for the Bucks, but he also found open space thanks to the Cavaliers’ dribble penetration that forced Lopez to collapse above the rim. Mobley’s 27 shot attempts were a career high.
Garland finished with 21 points and 10 assists.
Three-point-focused Bucks can’t find late shots
Without Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup over the past five games, the Bucks have gravitated toward the three-point line on offense.
In the previous four games before Saturday night, the Bucks’ three-point numbers were:
- in Miami: 22 made, 57 attempts
- in Miami: 19-48
- vs. Indiana: 23-46
- vs. Toronto: 19-39
The Bucks continued their blitz from deep against the Cavaliers on Saturday night, opening the game by making five of their first seven. But there’s a feast-or-famine element to that strategy, and when the Bucks missed seven straight 3-pointers from late in the first quarter to early in the second, their 26-21 lead turned into a 40-28 deficit.
In the second half, the Bucks used a flurry of 3-pointers from Pat Connaughton and Joe Ingles early in the fourth quarter to take a brief 90-88 lead and then tie the game again at 95, but in the final 8 minutes, 45 seconds. Milwaukee didn’t make another three.
They finished on 14-of-39, but couldn’t hit many more of those shots either, as they also started to turn the ball over late.
Bucks can’t hit magic number against Cavs
The Cavaliers entered the weekend with the number one scoring defense in the NBA, allowing just 107.1 points per game. But the Warriors scored 120 on Friday night, which was only the ninth time an opponent had reached the 120-point threshold.
In their two wins over the Cavaliers in Milwaukee, the Bucks scored 117 and 113 points, respectively.
Against Cleveland, 110 points scored has been the magic number for opponents — the Cavaliers are just 6-14 in games when they give up at least that many. And four of those wins came in overtime.
In their loss at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on December 21, the Bucks scored 106 points.
It looked like Milwaukee might get to that point early in the fourth quarter, but the Cavaliers put up a strong defense for the final eight minutes of the game. The Bucks scored just seven points in that stretch and had six of their 16 turnovers.
The dollars do not take advantage of the break in the schedule
Every NBA team has scheduling quirks that can affect even the best rosters, like when the Bucks played 13 games in 10 cities over 24 days in December. It was a straight line that started 4-1 and ended 1-3. There weren’t many “offs” that month for the Bucks, as they played one in a row and never had more than a day off or two in a row at home, so every “off” day was also a travel day.
But heading into Saturday night’s game, you could say they took a break. The Bucks were in Milwaukee for six straight days, and even with a back-to-back Monday and Tuesday, they were coming off three straight days where they were able to practice, work on individual skills and generally catch their breath.
While Cleveland is one of the best home teams in the NBA, the Cavaliers played their second straight night without star point guard Donovan Mitchell (28.4 ppg). But the Cavaliers showed pride after that disappointing loss to Golden State on Friday, while the Bucks struggled to generate a consistent offense.
Looking ahead to Monday in Detroit, the Bucks will play a Pistons team playing its first game in the United States after losing to Chicago on Thursday in Paris.
Giannis Antetokounmpo misses fifth straight game with knee pain
Despite practicing Thursday in Milwaukee and engaging in light practice and individual work Friday, the Bucks ruled out Antetokounmpo for the fifth straight game with sore left knee Saturday afternoon.
“There’s still things he’s working on, I think body-wise, to get to that point where there’s a big difference between practicing and playing a game,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before of the party “And I know I’ve said it almost every day: We continue to be confident and we feel like these are the things that we’ve handled and dealt with for most of his career. So we’ll keep taking it.” day to day. He’s doing a good job, good lifts.”
Budenholzer said there is no additional injury preventing Antetokounmpo from playing, noting that the former MVP has worked five-on-five in recent days. The coach added that as of Saturday, there was no feeling Antetokounmpo would need a practice session with the Wisconsin Herd to play again.
He hasn’t played since January 11 in Atlanta.
He had performed his pregame routines on January 16 and 17 before games against Indiana and Toronto, but did not play.
The 28-year-old missed five straight games from December 15-23 of last season while under the league’s health and safety protocol. The last time he missed his many games due to injury was April 3-14, 2021 with a sprained left knee.
Antetokounmpo missed three of four games earlier this year with soreness in his left knee from Nov. 5-11. Budenholzer said it’s a collaborative decision on whether or not to keep the players.
“In our world, I think the player has the ultimate call, whether it’s Giannis or (rookie) MarJon (Beauchamp), how the guys feel and ultimately whether they’re ready to play and things like that,” Budenholzer said. . “Whether it’s our team or any team, I think the player ultimately has the best idea of where he’s at and how ready he is. But I think the amount of time they spend with physical therapists, with our physical therapy group, with our strength and conditioning group, with our coaches, (VP of performance Dr.) Troy (Flanagan) does an amazing job, and Jon Horst and I; there’s a lot of communication and collaboration and together we make decisions.”
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Serge Ibaka is away from Bucks as they look for a trade
The Bucks will advance, formally, with 14 guaranteed contracts on the roster, as veteran backup center Serge Ibaka stays away from the team while general manager Jon Horst tries to find a destination for the big man.
Ibaka was acquired at the trade deadline last season when Brook Lopez was recovering from back surgery and played in 19 games. He re-signed this offseason, but he played in just 16 games, as Lopez and Bobby Portis proved to be the two most durable players on the roster. Ibaka has appeared in only two games since November 21.
“Jon and Serge and those guys are going to work to find the best solution for Serge and for the organization,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said at shootaround Saturday morning. “Sometimes having clarity helps everyone, it helps Serge, it helps me, it helps Jon, and we can all keep moving forward and figure out how we’re going to find the best solution.”
5 Highest 3-pointers of the season made by Bobby Portis. Portis scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss.
10 Assists for Holiday, which saw him pass Michael Jordan for No. 49 on the all-time assists list. Holiday’s first assist went to Allen Iverson for sole possession of the No. 50 all-time.
eleven Double-doubles for Holiday in 35 games. He had 12 in 67 games for the Bucks and his career-high is 20 in 2012-13 in Philadelphia, the only time he was an All-Star.
2-17 / 12-4 / 12-2 Cleveland runs to open the second and third quarters and in the fourth quarter, respectively. The first run gave the Cavaliers the lead and the second extended a 50-47 halftime lead to 62-51. The final surge effectively ended the game, breaking a 95-95 tie.
20-5 Cavaliers home record, best in the Eastern Conference.
The game of the game is Cleveland forcing a shot clock violation on Milwaukee in the fourth quarter
The Bucks had come back from a pair of double-digit deficits to take a brief fourth-quarter lead, but after the Cavaliers took a 97-95 lead with 8:26 left in the game, they turned up the pressure defensively. On the Bucks’ ensuing possession, Brook Lopez was forced to take a contested step-back 3-pointer that missed the rim, resulting in a shot clock violation for the Bucks. The turnover led to a basket by the Cavaliers and began a streak in which the Bucks came around six times and watched the game slip away.
Gameplay Video Is The Bobby Portis Poster Dunk
The Bucks center slammed down the Cavaliers’ Kevin Love with authority in the second quarter, creating his second poster dunk in as many games.
Milwaukee Bucks injury report
- Serge Ibaka (not with the team), out
- Khris Middleton (right knee pain), out
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (left knee pain), out
Who are the Bucks playing now?
Milwaukee heads to the Motor City to play the Detroit Pistons on Monday. The teams last saw each other early in the season when the Bucks won back-to-back games in Milwaukee on October 31 and November 2 as part of their 9-0 start to the season. Once again, the Pistons hurtle to the top of the lottery as one of the worst teams in the league, as No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham is out for the season due to injury.