NBA Basketball: Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks - Bucks Favored
Following his best offensive performance of the season, James looks to lead the Cavaliers to their fourth straight victory on Saturday when they face a Milwaukee Bucks team that held him to his worst offensive game of 2006-07.
Oddsmakers have made Indiana -4 point spread favorites
James scored a season-high 41 points as Cleveland beat Detroit 101-97 in overtime on Wednesday to move a season-best 11 games over .500. The Cavs have not won four straight since a five-game run Jan. 2-9.
"If we play well, nobody can beat us," he said. "We believe that."
Second-place Cleveland (36-25) cut into the first-place Pistons' conference lead with the victory, and has won four of five behind James' red-hot play.
The three-time All-Star is averaging 36.6 points on 56.5 percent shooting in his last five games, topping the 35-point mark in four of those contests. His scoring burst has come after an 11-game stretch in which he averaged 23.8 points on 44.1 percent shooting.
"I think that when I'm more focused and taking every game like it is our last, which I have done lately, the guys just really follow," James said.
While James has been playing well lately, he had his worst offensive game of the season in the Cavs' 95-86 win at Milwaukee on Jan. 5 when he recorded season lows of eight points and 3-for-13 shooting.
That effort was considerably different than his first game against the Bucks (23-39) this season, when he had 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting in a 109-99 win on Dec. 29.
With James struggling in his last game against Milwaukee, Drew Gooden registered season highs of 31 points and 16 rebounds. Gooden had 22 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday after averaging 5.0 points and 7.1 rebounds in his previous seven contests.
Cleveland has won its last five games over the Bucks, who took advantage of Kobe Bryant's suspension and the absence of two other starters to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 110-90 on Wednesday.
After shooting just 39.5 percent in a 99-81 loss at Orlando on Monday, the Bucks shot a season-high 59.5 percent from the floor Wednesday despite a poor performance from Michael Redd.
Redd had 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting against the Lakers, and has just 25 points on 6-of-27 (22.2 percent) shooting in his last two games after scoring 52 on 18-of-32 shooting in Sunday's loss to Chicago. He has also struggled from the field against Cleveland, connecting on 33.3 percent (13-of-39) of his shots in two games, but has managed to average 25.0 points in those contests.
With Redd struggling against Los Angeles, Charlie Villanueva provided a boost by scoring a season-high 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Milwaukee is hoping Villanueva's performance is a sign of more good things to come, as the oft-injured forward has played in only 36 games this season after being acquired from Toronto last June.
"I needed a game like this," Villanueva said. "I haven't had one in a long time. This is why, I think, they traded for me."
These teams wrap up their season series on April 18 in Cleveland.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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