CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers were soundly beaten in transition, in the paint, in the half-court setting and in effort in a 118-101 road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Tuesday night.
Despite building a 14-point lead in the early part of the first quarter, the Cavaliers were outscored in all three situational spots against the Bucks, points in the paint, second-chance scoring and fast-break opportunities.
“We just let our guard down a little bit,” power forward Kevin Love said. “They’re a team that’s really good in transition. I think they’re either first or second in paint points as well. We let the game get away from us, didn’t really let up in the third quarter.
“Uncharacteristic plays and turnovers, bad shots, forced shots and we didn’t convert when we needed to. It was kind of the perfect storm, but you’ve got to tip your hat to them. They played extremely hard, extremely physical and a lot of their guys played great games.”
Usually sound in their interior defense, the Cavaliers allowed the Bucks to score 68 points, and were doubled up in that department in the loss. The Bucks converted 34 of their 55 attempts inside the key, while the Cavaliers hit just 17 shots in the paint.
“They were putting us in some weak-side rotations and diving from that weak-side perimeter every time they were getting downhill,” Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving said. “We were playing our normal rules, but then, you’ve got guys that don’t shoot a lot of three-pointers like Jabari (Parker) and Giannis (Antetokounmpo). They’re cutting from the weak side, and they’re putting pressure on our backside defense. They made us pay for that.”
Love added, “Some of it was us. We’re so good at trusting each other throughout game. There was a little lapse in that. That’s not something that’s going to be recurring. Some of it was just bad rotations. Some of it was we made rotations too late, but they’re a good team. They keep coming at you. They’re long, have a lot of length, got to the free-throw line. That was basically it.”
Starting forward Giannis Antetokounmpo led the charge for the Bucks, scoring a career-high 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting and seven of 10 from the free-throw line. Despite six turnovers, Antetokounmpo finished plus-20 with 12 rebounds, five assists, five steals and two blocked shots.
“They played with good pace,” Irving said. “They made some tough shots when they were in the half court, but more or less, when they were playing with pace and transition, they made us pay. Whether they were going in or not, they were playing with a sense of purpose on the offensive end, getting downhill.”