Lebron was not enough: Bucks 108 – Cavs 105

Cleveland Cavaliers 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
108 Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 45 MIN | 6-18 FG | 0-2 3FG | 4-5 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +1 +/-

Until he fouled out, Giannis was tasked with the unenviable responsibility of stopping Lebron in the fourth quarter and overtime of a close game. More often than not, he did not succeed, but he fought hard and occasionally made life difficult for Lebron.

Offensively, Milwaukee gave Giannis more opportunities to handle the ball and run the offense from the top of the key than it seemed like the team had given him in some time. He had a number of opportunities against Kevin Love, which seemed like a favorable quickness mismatch for Giannis, but he wasn’t completely able to take advantage of the situation. Where he did shine was on the offensive glass, where he grabbed a few offensive rebounds that he was able to put back for easy baskets.

Jabari Parker, SF 30 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -1 +/-

He had two, TWO, dunks in traffic. That was very encouraging to see. The first one was a dunk (kind of) over two guys where he absorbed some contact in traffic as he made his way to the rim. Defensively he still seems to have some room for improvement as far as his lateral quickness and staying in front of guys goes and as a rebounder he needs to keep working on establishing position and getting stronger against power forwards, but overall he’s definitely making progress.

Greg Monroe, C 43 MIN | 8-17 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 17 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +8 +/-

Lebron attacked the rim often enough late in the game that people on media row were consistently asking why Monroe was in rather than Henson. Since it’s early in the season, it makes sense to me to play Monroe and make him go through the learning experience. He’s going to need to be Milwaukee’s back line defender and he’s going to need to be capable at it. Occasionally he was cutting off lanes for Lebron when Cleveland ran 2/3 pick and rolls, but many times he wasn’t much of a threat when Lebron drove to the basket. Milwaukee needs Monroe to be a capable defender, and if a quarter’s worth of tape of him struggling against Lebron may help that in the long run, then so be it.

Offensively he was up to his old tricks. Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson struggled with him. He remains a consistent offensive threat.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 40 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 3FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 17 PTS | +4 +/-

In his first game back from an ankle injury, MCW looked as good as he has all season. He was properly aggressive, finding opportunities that existed within the Cleveland defense without forcing the issue. He caught some criticism for not looking to shoot enough late in the game on Twitter, but given how erratic he’s been at times this season I find it hard to criticize him for being conservative. He was aggressive enough to score eight points across the two overtimes, largely on the back of rim attacks.

Khris Middleton, SG 42 MIN | 4-13 FG | 1-2 3FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +6 +/-

With the rest of the starting lineup seemingly firing on all cylinders, it was frustrating to see Middleton make such a small impact. He had a huge play late in the game, where he made a backdoor cut, received a pass from Greg Monroe and finished at the rim, something Kidd said they talked about before they executed. But aside from that play, Middleton was largely absent most of the night. He didn’t even attempt a three until the second overtime.

John Henson, PF 21 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -8 +/-

For the first time all season, Henson played next to Greg Monroe. There wasn’t anything revolutionary in the minutes they played together, but at least once or twice it was noticeable that the Bucks had two bigs out there when Monroe was away from the hoop and Henson came in with a blocked shot. Milwaukee held its own on the defensive glass as well as it had all season, which seemed to be at least in part to its larger lineups.

Greivis Vasquez, PG 24 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-5 3FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +4 +/-

He came to life! Vasquez spent most of the game controlling the point guard position, getting people involved and doing just enough with his shot attempts to be dangerous. Then he re-entered the game late after Giannis fouled out and hit a VERY IMPORTANT three to put the Bucks up 106-102. The Bucks had been battling for control throughout the fourth quarter and overtime, and typically holding onto it. That three made sure they wouldn’t lose it again.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 39 MIN | 7-16 FG | 3-7 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +1 +/-

I’m not sure how long Bayless is going to keep up his reliable scorer act, but it has been crucial for the Bucks, especially while Middleton has been struggling. Bayless has been so good that no one really flinched when the Bucks went to him at the end of the first overtime to try and win them the game. He also matched up on Lebron more than a few times after Giannis fouled out and wasn’t on the end of massive destruction. His contest of a Lebron layup with 1:01 to play led to a HUGE miss, an MCW rebound and ultimately enough breathing room for the Bucks to feel good about a win.

Jason Kidd

For the first time, Kidd had his ideal starting lineup, and he rode them quite a bit. Jabari still has a minute limitation and Bayless has been so good it’s been tough to keep him off the court, but he frequently went with his starters and key reserves, which gave him a more solid rotation than he’s had this season. Kidd and the Bucks look much better when the back end of the bench isn’t forced into so much action.

One Thing We Saw

  1. Late game Lebron was incredible. It seemed like he sleepwalked his way to 20 points, but when the game was on the line, he stepped up over and over with little help from his teammates. I know that I’ve occasionally been guilty of talking about Giannis like he was a superstar, but I’d argue that I haven’t been the only person around Milwaukee using that sort of language. Watching Lebron tonight was a great reminder of how dominant superstars are. He imposed his will on the game repeatedly late. It was a testament to Milwaukee’s fight that they were able to stick with it.

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9 Comments

  1. Jabari is the super star! Giannis is an all star for sure, yes, but Jabari has a better more developed game than Giannis, handle, jumper, and some post moves. There is a difference and Kidd isnt utilizing his full talents…somebody compared him to Big Dog…i feel like thats the way thet see him its going to limit his potential super star status

    • I don’t think that is the case at all. He tore his ACL. You can’t rush him back from that and he is being gradually inserted in games. Also I don’t think you can say he is leaps and bounds above Giannis right now. He might be eventually. Who knows? Once he keeps getting experience and develops his game more and more I think he will be great and used. I mean they are starting him first game available. They want him. They want to use him. Once he’s back and he and Giannis are leading this team one day we should all be thankful we have them both.

    • Agreed. These grades are so arbitrary and have had a weird pro-Henson bias for the past few seasons.