The Bucks face an uphill battle in their series against the Cavaliers -Photo via nba.com
In the final part of our playoff series, I will break down how the Bucks would match-up with the reigning Eastern Conference Champs: The Cleveland Cavaliers. As you can probably imagine the 33-49 Bucks do not match up great with the 57-25 Cavaliers. The season series went 1-3 for Milwaukee, with the lone win coming in 2OT in November, the average margin of victory for the Cavaliers in the other games was 17.67 points per contest.
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineup
Kyrie Irving 6’3″
J.R. Smith 6’6″
Lebron James 6’8″
Kevin Love 6’10”
Timofey Mozgov 7’1″
Cavaliers Strengths and Weaknesses
The Cavaliers strengths unfortunately align themselves with the Bucks weaknesses. The Cav’s quartet of frontcourt players (Mozgov, James, Love, Tristan Thompson) are all fairly good rebounders and in two of their match-ups with the Bucks this year they grabbed a whopping 44% of all available offensive rebounds. Tristan Thompson is often able to force the issue he averaged 2.75 offensive rebounds a game against the Bucks. Thompson combined with the rest of the Cavs’ front court members creates a problem for the Bucks’ front line which features one of the worst rebounding power forwards in the league in the league in Jabari Parker.
Kevin Love also created a matchup issue for the Bucks who have long struggled to defend the three point line also did not have it in them to guard stretch 4s. He averaged 21.75 ppg against the Bucks with 3.5 made threes a game in four contests. As a whole the Cavaliers kill teams from three ranking second in the league in three pointers made a game. This does not play into the Bucks strengths at all, who have difficulties chasing shooters and navigating the pick and rolls all season.
Finally the Cav’s present a matchup problem with Kyrie Irving, the Buck’s really do not have an ideal guy to defend him with MCW out. Bayless could throw his hat in the ring, but Irving presents a tough matchup for any non elite defensive guard. Irving has the microwave ability to get hot from 3 and kill teams, same with his backcourt mate J.R. Smith.
Matchup to Watch
The King still has a few years of being a top 5 player left in the tank. The question becomes, who on the Bucks has the stones to guard James one on one. Well his shot has started to leave him, he can still drive with the best of them when the Cavs’ need him to. He is also still an elite passer and creates for teammates. I think Giannis has the best chance of guarding him, he could sink off James and wreak havoc in the passing lanes. Hopefully Giannis can learn on the job, but he is still probably the Bucks’ best bet at defending Lebron.
Well the present day Bucks are no match for the Cavaliers, the future’s are pretty far apart. Lebron turns 32 in December and will be descending from his throne very soon. Irving and Love are younger, but both have not shown the ability to anchor a contender like Lebron has. I would give the Cavaliers a conservative two more years of being the rulers of the East, but with Lebron’s opt out and Durant’s free agency a lot could change. It will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers retool this summer, if they were to get swept in the finals. Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov are both free agents this summer who were integral parts to the Cavalier rotation what will the future hold for them? The Bucks on the other hand are just starting their rise and have their top core three under team control for the foreseeable future, in two years the Bucks should in theory be hitting their stride.