The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 109 to 80 in a wire to wire victory, earning one of their most commanding wins of the season. The Cavaliers, who improved to 56 and 22 on Tuesday night, have won the season series against their Central Division rival Bucks, who dropped to 32 and 46 on the season.
This win puts Cleveland three and a half games ahead of the second seeded Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Milwaukee, who showed a great deal of promise last season under coach Jason Kidd, sits at the bottom of the Central Division and the 12 seed in the East, having been out of the playoff race for some time now.
Cleveland’s Strong First Half: J.R. Smith Catches Fire
The Cavaliers, who are on a four game win streak, started the game hot and built an early lead over Milwaukee as they have multiple times in their recent victories, ultimately helping them secure such a dominant victory. Cleveland jumped out to an early 33 to 19 lead over Milwaukee in the first quarter, digging a hole that Milwaukee would be unable to come back from.
Cleveland only furthered their lead in the second quarter, jumping ahead by more than 20 points mid-way through. J.R. Smith, who entered this game three three-pointers back from notching the Cavaliers single-season record, came out on fire and hit seven in the first half alone. Smith ended the first half and the game with 21 points. Kevin Love added another consistent push, scoring 15 first half points. The Cavaliers scored 34 points in the second quarter to take a dominant 67 to 43 lead going into the half.
Kyrie Irving, who only had seven first half points, jumped into tenth place on Cleveland’s all-time scoring list, passing former Cavalier World B. Free. Free, who scored 6,329 points for Cleveland, played for the Cavaliers from 1982 through 1986. Irving, who is in his fifth season in the league, has played his entire career for Cleveland.
The Bucks struggled to score against a swarming Cleveland defense, ultimately getting little production from a majority of their players. Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 11 points each, but many of the other Bucks struggled to put the ball in the basket.
Cavaliers Keep Their Foot on the Gas
Cleveland refused to let up on Milwaukee, as their lead saw little to no submission in the second half. Love and Smith continued their strong play from the first half, and LeBron James helped push Cleveland’s lead near 30 points in the third quarter.
Most of the Cavaliers starters got crucial rest through the majority of the second half, as none of them played more than 28 minutes in the game. Cleveland’s bench came on strong late in the third quarter and through most of the fourth quarter, ultimately leading them to a 29-point victory.
Smith led the team with 21, and Love and James added 17 points each off a combined 13 for 20 from the field. Irving ended the night with 15 points on five for nine shooting. Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye were strong off of the bench, scoring 11 and 10 points respectively.
Milwaukee’s starters put up a fight, but their bench failed to keep up with Cleveland’s, scoring only nine points on the night. Antetokounmpo led the team with 22 points, 14 points, and eight assists. Parker ended the night with 19 points, and Johnny O’Bryant III added 12 points for the Bucks.
As the last week of the season rolls around, the Cavaliers will look to close out a back-to-back Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers.
The Bucks will get two nights off before the travel to play the Boston Celtics Friday night.