Even though their last victory was against one of the worst the Eastern Conference has to offer, the playoff-hopeful Milwaukee Bucks put together a performance worthy enough for a spot within the top eight seeds.
Milwaukee will try to build off a 112-98 win over the Washington Wizards when it commences a five-game homestand Wednesday versus the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Bradley Center. The Bucks' balanced attack on Monday in D.C. was spearheaded by Brandon Jennings, who scored 17 of his team-best 19 points during the third quarter.
"I just started shooting more aggressive," said Jennings. "In the first half I was trying to find guys, but the third I just put it in my own hands."
Ersan Ilyasova added 16 points and 11 rebounds, his third straight double- double, while Monta Ellis (17), Mike Dunleavy (17), Ekpe Udoh (15) and Shaun Livingston (10) all finished in double-digit scoring for Milwaukee, which pulled within 1 1/2 games of New York for the final postseason berth in the East after the Knicks lost to Indiana last night. Milwaukee will host the Knicks on April 11. New York is idle tonight, so it's important for the Bucks not to look past Cleveland.
The Bucks' Carlos Delfino and Beno Udrih did not play with right groin and left hand injuries, respectively, and are questionable versus the Cavs. The Bucks are 12-12 at home this season and will also entertain Charlotte, Portland, Oklahoma City and the Knicks at the Bradley Center.
Milwaukee has shot 50 percent or better from the field in three of the last four games, winning all three, and is 10-1 when reaching that mark.
Cavs Rookie of the Year candidate Kyrie Irving can certainly take the wind out of Milwaukee's sails with another superb performance, but on Tuesday he wasn't able to lure his team to victory in a 125-90 blowout loss to San Antonio.
Irving missed Saturday's 91-75 loss at New York because of a sprained shoulder suffered in a defeat versus the Bucks the night before. He recorded 13 points and five assists last night for Cleveland, which has dropped eight in a row and 11 of 12 games, and is last in the Central Division. The Cavs are winless in six straight as home and haven't dropped nine in a row overall since an NBA-worst 26-game losing streak from Dec. 20, 2010-Feb. 9, 2011.
Antawn Jamison had a team-best 15 points versus the Spurs.
"The first thing is we have to compete. It is that simple," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. "If we don't do that, we have no chance. You have to play flawless basketball. We're not giving ourselves an opportunity to be in a game and win a game because we're not competing at a high level."
The Cavs announced that guard Daniel Gibson had successful surgery on Monday to repair a torn tendon in his left foot and ankle. He will miss the remainder of the season. Cleveland will open a three-game road trip tonight against the Bucks, Raptors and Nets and owns an 8-16 mark as the guest.
Milwaukee is aiming for its first season sweep of Cleveland since taking all four matchups in 2002-03. The Bucks completed the sweep on this day nine years ago and are unbeaten in the last six meetings between the teams. The Cavs have lost four in a row as the visitor in this series.