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Gameblog No. 75: Cavs vs. Milwaukee Bucks

By George Thomas Published: March 31, 2010


Cavs 101, Bucks 98
The Cavs eke one out in a game that was a lot closer than it should have been and needed to be.  The primary reason:  the Cavs got to the free throw line 45 and missed 16 of those shots. 
‘’I’m not going to overkill.  I feel we have pretty good free throw shooters, but we do have to do a better job of knocking those down,’’ Brown said.  ‘’If we’re going to earn that right to go to the free throw line we’re going to have to capitalize (on it).’’
Mike Brown doesn't sound too concerned about it, but the reality is that the Bucks are a playoff caliber team and clubs such as those will eventually make you pay if you don't connect on free throws.  The Cavs have been lucky in that they've not been negatively impacted by rancid free throw shooting in recent games.  It ultimately could cost them in the playoffs.
The other problem with tonight's game?  The Cavs got beat in the paint, something that rarely happens.  It wasn't by a great margin 42-36, but nonetheless it happened.  It points to the fact that they miss two players - Shaquille O'Neal and Anderson Varejao.  My money says they miss the latter more the former, however.
O'Neal's an imposing presence in the paint and the Bucks got a lot of drives in the middle leading to easy scores.  
Despite the problems tonight, the game, which had a playoff atmosphere at some points, could end up helping the Cavs.
‘’Tonight I thought was good for us…Milwaukee did a nice job against us tonight,’’  Brown said.  ‘’Our guys had to fight, stay focused and trust one another down the stretch in order to get the win and they did it.’’
Game:   Cavs vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Broadcast:
TV: FSOhio Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM).
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); J.J. Hickson (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Bucks:  John Salmons (G); Luc Mbah a Moute (F); Andrew Bogut (C); Charlie Bell (G); Brandon Jennings (G).
Injured:
Cavs: Shaquille O'Neal (right thumb), Sebastian Telfair (ruptured groin); Anderson Varejao (sore left hamstring) - OUT.
Bucks:   Carlos Delfino (neck and jaw soreness) - DAY-TO-DAY; Michael Redd (tore ACL and MCL) - OUT.
Officials:  Eddie Rush, Tony Brothers and Leroy Richardson.
The Milwaukee Bucks won't be a pushover as the Cavs begin a seven-day stretch when they face four possible playoff foes.  The Bucks beat the Cavs the last time they met in Milwaukee as point guard Brandon Jennings and Andrew inflicted damage on the Cavs who played without LeBron James.
Bogut joins Dwight Howard as the only center in the league averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.   With the Cavs not starting a center and Zydrunas Ilgauskas still getting his legs back, he could be difficult to handle - even for the athletic J.J. Hickson who has played well filling in.
But the Bucks, which is a team with substantial depth, has been playing as a cohesive unit since February.  The Bucks are 21-7 since then, third best in the Eastern Conference and fifth best in the NBA.  Defensively they've stepped it up as well.  
The Cavs will be without Anderson Varejao, their spark plug off the bench while the Bucks will have theirs in Luke Ridnour, who is averaging 12 points in his last six games.  At this point, the Bucks own the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but still haven't clinched. They are looking to wrap that up.  While the Cavs have their magic number for the league's best record down to four.

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