Game 78: Cavs at Bucks
BMO Harris Bradley Center
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
1. The Cavaliers wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. It actually happened late in the third quarter when the Bulls lost to Orlando. The Bulls had to run the table on their games and have the Cavs lose the rest of them for them to overtake their Central Division foe. That wasn't going to happen. So, the Cavs secured the fourth division crown in their 45-year history. The others came in 1975-76, 2008-09 and 2009-10. They'll probably have a banner up at The Q for Friday's home game. Why? "Banners matter," LeBron James said after practice on Tuesday.
2. The Cavs "only" attempted 34 3-pointers on the night. We can expect that bombs-away approach the rest of the way, regardless of what Coach David Blatt thinks. He said earlier in the season he'd like to see them attempt about 20 3s per game. In the last few weeks, they are launching about 30 per game. They took 37 on Sunday vs. Chicago. The good thing is they made 11 of 34 against the Bucks. Guard Kyrie Irving made 4 of 8 from behind the arc en route to a team-high 27 points.
3. The Cavs are 22-18 (.550) on the road this season, one of the best road records in franchise history. That's the sign of a quality team. We knew this wasn't going to be easy tonight. The Bucks play so hard, much like Chicago. They just don't have the talent level that the Bulls do. Milwaukee played without forward Giannis Antetokounmpo tonight. Coach Jason Kidd decided to give him the night off. More importantly, I spelled his name right without looking at their roster. That is a major coup. The Cavs are 6-2 on the road since March 10. They are averaging 111.4 points in those games and shooting 49 percent from the field and 41 percent from behind the arc.
4. Toronto moved into a tie with Chicago for the No. 3 seed. That could be huge for the Cavs. They might face the Raptors in the second round of the playoffs instead of the Bulls. Also, Boston moved past Brooklyn into the No. 7 spot in the East. If the season were started today, it would be the Cavs vs. Celtics in the first round. The Cavs' next two games will be against Boston, starting at home on Friday.
5. LeBron James wasn't the Cavs' leading scorer, but he finished 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. He had 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left that put a dagger in the Bucks.
6. They are 32-7 in their last 39 games since Jan. 15. In that span, they have a +10 differential. They are the best team in the league heading into the playoffs.
7. The Cavs have reached the 50-win plateau for just the eighth time in franchise history. It's their first 50-win season since 2009-10.
8. Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams, last year's Rookie of the Year, was outstanding tonight with a game-high 30 points. He's so long, he causes problems for Irving. I kept waiting for James to switch over to him, but that never happened. I was also waiting to see Timofey Mozgov in the fourth quarter, but of course, he continued to sit in the final quarter. I just don't get the logic of that one.
9. I've stated this before, but Kidd should get some Coach of the Year votes. He's helped transform the Bucks into a playoff team. I wasn't so sure about him when he coached the Nets, but he's done a nice job in Milwaukee. Mike Budenholzer of Atlanta and Steve Kerr of Golden State are the leading candidates for the award.
10. Bucks assistant coach Joe Prunty was a Cavs assistant for three years (2010-13) before joining Kidd's staff in Brooklyn last year. Cavs assistants Jim Boylan and Larry Drew were former head coaches in Milwaukee.
UP NEXT: vs. Boston, Quicken Loans Arena, 7:30 p.m. Friday
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Jared Dudley (6-7, 225)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Zaza Pachulia (6-11, 270)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. Khris Middleton (6-7, 225)
Bucks - F Damien Inglis, F Jabari Parker
Zach Zarba, Curtis Blair, Sean Corbin