In a Funk

The Cleveland Cavaliers thought LeBron James' return from a finger injury would help them reclaim their early season form. So far, that hasn't been the case.

James and the Cavaliers look to snap out of their funk on Monday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks, who have moved one-half game ahead of the Cavaliers in the Central Division standings thanks in part to the play of Michael Redd.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Cleveland -8 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 192.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland -8 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

James led Cleveland (10-14) to four straight wins Nov. 21-27, capped with a 109-104 overtime win against Atlantic Division-leading Boston. After that game, James said the Cavaliers were one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

But they have struggled recently, both with and without their star.

James left in the second quarter of Cleveland's next game against Detroit with a sprained finger, and the Cavaliers went on to lose that game and the next five with the league's leading scorer sidelined.

James has been back on the court for the team's last three games, but the Cavaliers have won just one of those contests. They shot just 42.7 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers in a sloppy 92-86 home loss to Philadelphia on Saturday - their eighth loss in nine games overall.

"We're not playing very good basketball," James said. "Right now, we're not a very good team. We have to regroup."

The Bucks (10-13) may have already regrouped, winning two of three games after losing eight of their previous nine. Redd had 32 points and went 7-for-12 from 3-point range, and rookie forward Yi Jianlian added a season-high 22 as Milwaukee beat Minnesota 95-92 on Saturday to improve to 8-2 at home.

"We knew this game was important after losing last night to Boston and going on the road to Cleveland," Redd said. "We knew this was a must win especially at home."

Redd has been one of the NBA's top scorers for years, but his recent play has been more well-rounded. After failing to record more than eight assists in any of his first 465 career games, he's had nine in two of his last three contests. He fell one assist short of his first career triple-double in Wednesday's win over Southeast Division-leading Orlando.

The shooting guard is leading the team in scoring for the fifth straight season with 23.7 points per game, but he's also averaging career highs of 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

Redd - a Columbus, Ohio, native who played college basketball at Ohio State - had 34 points, seven rebounds and six assists against the Cavaliers as the Bucks snapped a seven-game losing streak against them with a 111-107 victory in Cleveland on Nov. 20. He has averaged 26.9 points in 12 games against Cleveland since 2004-05.

James had 34 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in these teams' first meeting, and has averaged 29.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.9 assists in his 16 career games against the Bucks.

The Cavaliers are just 5-5 at Quicken Loans Arena, where they were 30-11 last season en route to the first NBA finals appearance in franchise history.

Despite their previous win in Cleveland, though, the Bucks are just 2-11 on the road, where they've lost five straight.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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