Cleveland Cavaliers can’t preserve tempo with Milwaukee Bucks, falter in second half in 123-105 loss


CLEVELAND, Ohio – Hanging out with the Milwaukee Bucks for half an hour is one thing. Doing four quarters is a whole different challenge.

After a changed and explosive offensive in the first half, the Cleveland Cavaliers took the lead at half time against the second best team in the Eastern Conference. But the Cavs returned to some of their unsuccessful methods and failed to keep up in the final 24 minutes, losing to the Bucks (123-105). The Cavs are now three games under .500, their worst mark of the season.

After the loss on Wednesday, with the Cavs hitting an NBA low of 10 3-pointers, head coach JB Bickerstaff focused most of Thursday’s lengthy training and subsequent film sessions on generating more looks from afar. It worked early, scoring 63 points and drilling eight triples in the first half.

The Cavs’ seemingly wounded offense appeared to have been mended and prepared to hit the goats in their own game.

Milwaukee stepped into the night wanting to be the first team in NBA history to score 20 3-point points in three consecutive games. They make almost 16 made 3s on average. But it was the Cavs who used the deep ball as a weapon and responded to Bickerstaff’s demands for the past two days. Only they couldn’t stand it.

Cleveland was beaten 63:42 in the second half as most of the 3-ball disappeared and only went 3-13 during this stretch. Milwaukee won the crucial fourth quarter 29-16.

Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points, including 22 in the second half, and scored 12 rebounds, four assists and four blocks. Jrue Holiday was there with 17 points.

The Cavs took a balanced approach. Leading scorer Collin Sexton had 19 points. Andre Drummond added 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Darius Garland had 13 points. Taurean Prince and rookie Isaac Okoro also reached double digits, scoring 12 and 10 points respectively.

For the game, Cleveland shot 41 out of 92 off the field and 11 out of 32 from a distance. It was a much more modern offensive schedule that turned away from repeated touches and inefficient 2s. It resembled the style that led to success at the start of the season and once again kept her competitive against a title contender on Friday.

Bickerstaff has repeatedly said that this season is a process. The Cavs played right most of the night. The back and forth game involved 19 changes in leadership and 16 draws.

Good process. Bad result.


The Cavs are playing the money for the second time in a row on Saturday. Tipoff is set to 8 p.m.

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