The Cavs (14-5) are fresh off sweeping a 3-game homestand after whomping the Bulls on Friday 101-87, and now take to the road to kick off a 3-game road trip at 3pm today against the Bucks (9-9) in Milwaukee.
On Brandon Jennings and LBJ:
The highlight-reel matchup for today's game is obviously LeBron vs. Brandon Jennings. These guys have a lot in common. They both entered the NBA as teenagers, neither went to college, and perhaps most recently, they were the last 2 people to score exactly 55 points in Milwaukee. Both of those 55 point explosions resulted in wins for their respective teams. LeBron even said that "If [Jennings] decides he wants to go for 50, I'll be able to match him." Well, the Cavs don't really need LeBron to score like that today, as long as the ball doesn't stagnate on offense, and they keep their feet moving on defense.
LeBron also told the PD's Brian Windhorst that he's excited to see Jennings play, but he's also looking forward to the Cavs shutting him down. It may not be as difficult as it sounds, since the Bucks have lost 7 out of their last 8 games, and Jennings is averaging less than 20 points over that span (and shooting below 35%).
The keys to winning today's game for the Cavs:
1) Defense (duh). If Delonte is having one of his good days, look for him to contain Jennings. Bogut has also been playing well since he's been back, so the Cavs need to make sure he doesn't take advantage of them in the paint; hopefully Shaq can take care of that. The Cavs also cannot sleep on Ilyasova. He's been playing really well for them, and they have to make sure that they have fresh legs on him at all times. If Delfino and Bell can beat the Cavs, then they didn't deserve to win the game anyway.
2) Ball movement. LeBron had a career high 8 three pointers last time he played here. Let's hope he doesn't need to do that again.
Fun Facts for today's game:1) There are 3 #1 overall picks playing in today's game: LeBron, Shaq, and Bogut.
2) Mike Brown and Scott Skiles are both defensively-minded coaches. That being said, I do NOT think this will be a low-scoring game. At all. Too much potential for showing off. LeBron will want to flex his might in front of Jennings. Jennings will want to show off in front of LeBron. And Mo Williams is really comfortable playing in Milwaukee (since he used to be a Cavs-killer out there).
3) The key to winning EVERY game is defense and ball movement. But I will continue to reiterate it every time.
4) OSU alum Michael Redd will not play today. He's been out for a few weeks with a bum knee, but truth be told, the Bucks have been used to playing without him and actually DO play better without him.
5) Thanks to Brandon Jennings's rise to stardom this year, the Cavs/Bucks game on December 18th has been picked up by ESPN. This is the 2nd time this has happened this season.
Probable starting lineup for today's game:
Position Milwaukee Cleveland
PG Brandon Jennings Mo Williams
SG Charlie Bell Anthony Parker
SF Carlos Delfino LeBron James
PF Ersan Ilyasova JJ Hickson
C Andrew Bogut Shaquille O'Neal
The current line for today's game:
Cleveland -7.5, and from what I can tell, even with Brandon Jennings as a rising young phenom in the NBA, everyone's betting on Cleveland.
Arbitrary Final Score Prediction for tonight:
Cavs 112 Bucks 101
PS- In case anyone didn't see it, here's a reminder that the Bulls have their trash-talking priorities confused. One day after Joakim Noah mouthed off to LeBron because of his dancing antics, Jarrett Jack of the Toronto Raptors proceeded to tie his shoe while the game was going on, and no one on the Bulls thought to take the ball away or was even insulted. The Raps, up 27 at that point, finished the embarrassing night for the Bulls by crushing them 110-78. Personally, I think shoe-tying while the clock is running is more disrespectful than dancing for your teammates on the sidelines during an 18 point lead and shimmying to the foul line, but to each his own, I guess.