Wrap-Up — Cleveland’s first two opponents this season – the Celtics and Bucks – were supposed to be their closest contenders in the East.
The Cavaliers weren’t at their best in Tuesday’s win over Boston. But they were razor-sharp over the final three quarters in Milwaukee – carving up the Bucks on both ends and pulling away for the convincing 116-97 win on Friday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
After ending the first quarter knotted at 25-apiece, Kyle Korver got the Cavaliers – who’d missed their first seven triples – off the schneid, burying a pair of bombs to get the ball rolling.
Cleveland proceeded to build a six-point lead at intermission and upped it to a dozen after three – netting at least 30 points in each of the last three periods.
In a total team effort, six Cavaliers finished in double-figures, with Cleveland’s second unit combining for 45 points – led by Korver’s 17.
The Eastern Conference’s top three-point shooting squad a season ago, the Wine & Gold got off to a slow start in 2017-18, going 5-for-22 in the opener and beginning Friday night 0-for-7. But Korver got warmed up and didn’t cool off – going 5-of-6 from long-range, 6-of-8 overall.
LeBron James – in an eagerly-anticipated duel with the Greek Freak – led the Cavaliers once again, finishing with 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting, adding a team-high eight assists, five boards and a block. James was also the only Cavalier to log more than 30 minutes in the victory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was just as impressive in a losing effort – leading everyone with 34 points on 15-for-22 shooting to go with eight assists, eight boards, three steals and a block.
But the Bucks didn’t get much beyond the Freak after intermission. Antetokounmpo went 8-of-10 in the second half; the rest of his squad was 10-for-32.
The Cavaliers were balanced on both ends and got contributions up and down the lineup.
Kevin Love got off to a strong start, notching 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter. The four-time All-Star – in his second start at center – doubled-up once again, adding a game-high 12 boards, six assists and a pair of blocks.
Jae Crowder was solid with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting to go with four boards and a steal. And Derrick Rose finished with an efficient 12-point outing, going 3-for-4 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the stripe to with a pair of boards and steals.
Check out Friday’s stats.
View snapshots from Milwaukee.
Full final game highlights.
Jeff Green finished with 10 points off the bench and Tristan Thompson chipped in with eight boards and eight points, going 4-of-6 from the floor in 24 minutes of work.
On the night, the Cavaliers shot 54 percent from the floor and were a perfect 17-for-17 from the stripe. Cleveland outrebounded the Bucks, 43-31, and held them to 31 percent shooting from long-range.
Turning Point — The turning point of Friday night’s game was the minute Cleveland’s No. 26 checked in at the scorer’s table.
The Bucks fed off an electric crowd in the first quarter and it was nip-and-tuck through the first 12 minutes. Milwaukee led by a deuce with 4:32 to play in the first half when Korver hit his first bomb to give Cleveland a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. His next triple put Cleveland up four, 47-43, just before half.
With 4:35 to play in the third quarter, the reigning three-point champ struck again – drilling three straight. His first trifecta put the Cavs up six, his next put them up nine, the last, up 12.
By the Numbers – 14 … times in 18 career meetings against Milwaukee that Kevin Love has notched a double-double.
Quotable – Kyle Korver, on finally getting untracked from beyond the arc this season …
”I hadn’t had a shot yet (this year). The season’s got to start at some point, right? Why not right now?”
Up Next — The Wine & Gold wrap up the second half of their first back-to-back of the campaign on Saturday night, welcoming Orlando to The Q, looking to win their 18th straight game against the Magic. On Tuesday night, the Bulls make their first regular season visit to Cleveland. The following night, Cleveland hits the road for a pair – taking on the Nets on Wednesday night in Brooklyn before traveling to the Big Easy for a showdown with the Pelicans on Saturday. The Cavs wrap up the month of October with a home battle against the Knicks the following night.