Game 29: Cavs at Bucks
BMO Harris Bradley Center
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio
WHAT HAPPENED: The Cavs snapped a 17-game losing streak in the Central Division, dating back to last Feb. 21 vs. Detroit. They are now 1-8 in the division this year.
The last time they ventured into the Bradley Center, Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer in his team's 105-102 win on Nov. 3. The Cavs claimed the shot came after the final buzzer.
There wasn't any drama to Saturday's game. The Cavs led from start to finish. They led by 20 points at one point in the third quarter.
The Cavs were unable to fly because of bad weather after their loss to Indiana on Friday. They flew into Wisconsin on Saturday morning. Center Anderson Varejao, the league's leading rebounder, didn't make the trip.
It will be the third consecutive game in which Varejao didn't play. He has a bruised right knee. The target date is Wednesday in Washington for his return.
Rookie Tyler Zeller has already gone up against Boston's Kevin Garnett, Indiana's Roy Hibbert and Milwaukee's Larry Sanders, the Human Pogo Stick. Sanders is second in the NBA in blocks at 3.04 per game.
He might be the league's Most Improved Player. He's added shooting to his skill set. He's always been able to rebound, block shots and run the floor.
Zeller had 11 points and 10 rebounds vs. the Bucks. He's averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in his three starts.
The Bucks' strength, though, is their backcourt. Jennings and shooting guard Monta Ellis put a big strain on the Cavs' defense. Ellis had a game-high 37 points on Saturday.
The Cavs snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Bucks, including their last six at the Bradley Center. They hadn't won in the series since Nov. 24, 2010.
For the second consecutive game, the Cavs had all five starters in double figures. With Varejao out of the lineup, they need that kind of balanced scoring.
Rookie guard Dion Waiters paced the Cavs with 18 points, five rebounds and two assists. He even shot better than 50 percent - 9 of 17. He missed all three of his attempts from behind the arc.
Power forward Tristan Thompson has been really good in each of the last two games. Against the Pacers, he had 12 points and 13 rebounds. He was even better on Saturday with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Part of his success is not having Varejao getting every loose ball and rebound. With Varejao not even in the same state on Saturday, Thompson was very good. He made 6 of 8 from the field.
The Cavs will be off on Sunday. They'll return to the practice court on Monday and Tuesday. Yes, they'll practice on Christmas, and are scheduled to fly to Washington Tuesday night.
LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Indiana on Friday, 99-89.
UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Washington at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Verizon Center.
SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Marquis Daniels (6-6, 200)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Luc Mbah a Moute (6-8, 230)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Larry Sanders (6-11, 235)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 221) vs. Monta Ellis (6-3, 185)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Brandon Jennings (6-1, 169)
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao, G Donald Sloan
Bucks - F Tobias Harris, G Beno Udrih
Joe Crawford, Brian Forte, Haywoode Workman