Injury-riddled Cleveland confronts Milwaukee
After suffering a blowout loss vs. Milwaukee three weeks ago, Cleveland knew better than to take Jason Kidd’s crew lightly last night. Yet that didn’t stop the Bucks from producing a Grade-A effort all over again.
The Cavaliers barely escaped the BMO Harris Bradley Center with a 114-108 victory in overtime. This evening, the two Central Division rivals collide at Quicken Loans Arena for the second part of a back-to-back, home-and-home series. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the defending champs odds of -290 to prevail, whereas Milwaukee represents a +245 underdog.
If not for some sketchy perimeter shooting, the Bucks (13-13) certainly could’ve registered their second straight win over Cleveland. Jabari Parker & Co. had only seven makes from beyond the arc. On the bright side, ultra-versatile swingman Giannis Antetokounmpo posted his seventh 20-point outing of the month.
Meanwhile, the Cavs (20-6) struggled to find a reliable third scoring source behind LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Power forward Kevin Love missed the contest due to a left knee contusion, and he may be affixed to the bench in a few hours, too. If that’s the case, fill-in starter Richard Jefferson can’t possibly log another 35 minutes.
To complicate matters further for the hosts, J.R. Smith’s (right thumb) status remains up in the air. They’ll clearly have to set the tone on defense and do a superior job of controlling the paint. Even if Tristan Thompson performs yeoman’s work, though, we project a fairly ugly tilt.
WEDNESDAY NBA FREE PICK: BUCKS/CAVALIERS UNDER 207 POINTS