The Cleveland Cavaliers came into Sunday’s action against the Milwaukee Bucks looking to get at least the eighth seed in the East or, if the Nets stumble versus the Pacers, the seventh seed.
Fortunately, the Bucks decided to rest their whole starting lineup, and the Cavs took full advantage. Cleveland led by as many as 40 points and routed the Bucks 133-115 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Unfortunately, the Nets defeated the Pacers, so they will be the seventh seed, while the Cavs will be the eighth seed in the East, so Cleveland will to travel to Brooklyn Tuesday night in the Play-In Tournament.
Cleveland finished the season 44-38, and the Bucks ended the year 51-31.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Bucks.
The Great for the Cavs:
-Kevin Love, who played only 15 minutes, scored 23 of his 32 points in the first half off the bench. The five-time All-Star made a career-high tying eight threes. He finished 10/16 from the field, including 8/11 from deep. He also added 10 rebounds. Love had 18 points, including five threes in the first quarter. Here’s the crazy part, according to Elias Sports, Love is the first player in the shot-clock era (since 1954) to record 30-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in under 16 minutes of action.
-Evan Mobley had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and he also added four blocks. Mobley finished the regular season with 21 double-doubles, the fourth-most for a rookie in Cavs’ history.
-Lauri Markkanen had 23 points(4/7 3-PT FG) and seven rebounds.
First Half: The Cavs jumped on the Pacers early and did not let up. Cleveland tied a season-high with 46 points in the first quarter, which tied a franchise record for most points in any quarter in team history. Cleveland shot 60% from the floor, including 10/15(67%) from downtown. They led by 26(46-20) after one.
Ultimately, the Cavs scored 79 points in the first half and led by 33 points(79-46) at the break.
The Not So Great for the Cavs:
The Cavs caught a break as the Bucks were clearly not looking to win this game. Now, it’s time to prepare to head to Brooklyn to face the seventh-seeded Nets.
Brooklyn will be tough to beat, but it’s one game, so anything is possible.
On Friday, the Cavs were down 17 points in the first quarter against the Nets and were swimming upstream the rest of the way; they took the lead in the third but fell short in the fourth, so Cleveland must get off to a better start.
Playing Brooklyn again could be to the Cavs’ benefit. For example, last season, the Memphis Grizzlies lost to the Golden State Warriors on the road in the season finale. A week later, Memphis went back on the road and beat the Warriors in the Play-In Tournament, so again, anything is possible.
Fortunately, as the eighth seed, Cleveland will have two games to win one, so if they fall short against the Nets, they will have a home game against the winner of the Hornets(10) and Hawks(9).
“I like our chances when it comes down to a dog fight,” Love said after the win. “That’s what it’s going to be come Tuesday night.”
The Cavs travel to Brooklyn to battle the Nets Tuesday night in the Play-In Tournament.
Best of the Rest:
-Mobley finished the season with 1,034 points, 570 rebounds(MOST among rookies), 174 assists, 115 blocks(MOST among rookies), 56 steals, and 21 double-doubles(MOST among rookies).
-Love finished with 187 threes this season, which is the fourth most in team history.
-The Cavs finished the season 25-16 at home.
-Rajon Rondo had six points and a season-high 13 assists against the Bucks.
-Sandro Mamukelashvili led the Bucks with a career-high 28 points; Thanasis Antetkuonmpko had a career-high 27 points.
-Before the game, the Cavs announced that they had converted the contract of center Moses Brown to a standard NBA contract and signed guard RJ Nembhard to a two-way contract.
Brown, who would not have been eligible for the playoffs with a two-contract, signed his first 10-day contract with Cleveland on March 10, his second 10-day contract on March 21, and a two-way contract on March 31.
Nembhard, prior to being waived on April 7, was signed to a standard NBA contract with Cleveland on March 31 and was originally signed to a two-way contract on October 16. Nembhard has appeared in 13 games this season for the Cavaliers and 13 games (12 starts) with the Cleveland Charge.
Listen below as Love and Mobley react to win over Bucks: