Following an incredibly odd game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Milwaukee Bucks remained on the road to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers, a Central Division foe.
In the first half, the Bucks looked like a team that was eager to get back home after a road trip, having never led and trailing by as many as 15. Even though their 3-pointers were not falling, the Cavs were hot on offense, led by starting center Jarrett Allen. Whenever the Bucks did anything, it seemed like the Cavaliers found Allen for another bucket down low.
However, after trailing by seven at the half, the Bucks came out energized in the third and fought back to take a lead of their own, quickly building up a 15-point advantage. It was a good test of Milwaukee's resilience, especially as Cleveland fought their way back into the game late. However, the Bucks held them off and secured a 119-111 victory. Here's how they got there.
Bucks overcome double-digit deficit, top tandem dominates Cavaliers in second half
With most of the Bucks struggling in the first half, Giannis Antetokounmpo did what he could to keep them afloat, recording 14 points at the break. He was even stronger in the second half, having scored 20 points on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting while also pulling down 10 rebounds. He sunk two shots at the foul line in the closing seconds to stamp Milwaukee's victory.
In total, Giannis finished with 34 points, 16 rebounds, and five assists. Per StatMuse, the Greek Freak now has 45 career 30-15-5 games. The next closest player is Nikola Jokic, with 26. No other player has reached 15. That truly speaks to the dominance of Antetokounmpo, especially coming off of yet another strong outing. Yet, he was not alone.
After scoring just seven points in the first half of action, Damian Lillard kicked it into another gear in the second half. The guard was much more aggressive, and rather than relying on his jumper, it was his ability to drive to the basket that fueled his success. Lillard was constantly attacking whichever defender the Cavaliers through at him, but he succeeded again and again.
That aggressiveness earned Lillard 11 free throw attempts in the second half, all of which he drained. He finished with 24 points in the second half, including 10 in the final quarter, living up to the meaning of "Dame Time." All in all, he finished with 31 points and four assists on 56.3 percent shooting in what was another strong outing from the star guard. He continues to get more comfortable daily.
In addition to these two, Malik Beasley gave the team a massive spark with his 3-point shooting, as he sunk five of his eight perimeter attempts en rotue to a 15-point performance. Beasley continues what has been a strong season for him as he thrives alongside Giannis, Lillard, and the other Bucks due to the sheer amount of open looks he is getting from the perimeter on a nightly basis.
Meanwhile, Khris Middleton didn't light it up with his scoring, having finished with 13 points on four made field goals, but he was once again a strong facilitator. After dishing a season-high 10 assists against Brooklyn, he had to one-up himself with 11 assists against Cleveland. A handful of those were to Giannis, as the chemistry between those two has seemingly never been better.
On the other side of things, the Cavaliers had a pair of 30-point scorers in Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen. Mitchell had 34 points, having hit his share of tough shots, while Allen had his very first 30 point game every as he consistently had his way down low. Yet, it was not enough to overcome the Bucks' second half heroics in the very end.
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