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Pregame Coverage: 3 Things to Watch for Cavs vs Bucks

Morry Gash | The Associated Press

Tonight the Cavs (2-0) will host the Bucks (1-2) at Quicken Loans Arena in a preseason contest between these two central division opponents. The two squads last faced off against each other in April of last season in a tight game with both teams fighting for pride rather than playoff contention. In that game Milwaukee won 119-116 on the stellar play of Bucks guards Brandon Knight and Ramon Session, spoiling Tristan Thompson’s 34th double-double of the season.
The Wine and Gold come into the game tonight after a thrilling overtime win last Saturday against the Miami Heat in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as they took part in the NBA Global Games 2014. Through great individual play led by Kevin Love (25 points & 7 rebounds) and excellent team offense, shooting over 50% from the floor and nearly 43% from deep. The Bucks on the other hand are coming into tonight off a 91-85 home loss to the Chicago Bulls last Saturday. In that game, Milwaukee simply couldn’t shoot the ball nearly as well as Chicago and had no answers for Pau Gasol (20 points & 11 rebounds) and Derrick Rose (16 points, 5 rebounds & 4 assists):

Two notable members of the Bucks will be representing Milwaukee at the Q for the first time in their careers tonight: new head coach Jason Kidd and the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Jabari Parker. Former All-Star and NBA Champion, Jason Kidd is set to begin his first full season as an NBA coach after leaving the head coaching position of the Brooklyn Nets this past offseason. The much-publicized move is surely one of many notable central division storylines heading into the season, as Kidd will attempt ot validate Milwaukee’s decision to bring him into town. The 2nd pick in this year’s draft, Jabari Parker has made a respectable start to his NBA career in averaging 12 points a game thus far in the preseason. According to Mike Prada of SB Nation, the Bucks will be starting the long-armed and ultra-talented Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard tonight with Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker on the wings, Ersan Ilyasova at power forward and Zaza Pachulia at center. Giannis, or the “Greek Freak”, pillars at 6’11”, which will surely give the Cavs’ guards matchup problems; but the Cavs’ depth should help to neutralize the problems posed by the Bucks’ big lineup.

{adinserter 2}Tonight the Cavaliers will be resting Lebron James while keeping Kyrie Irving (right ankle) out to recover from a leg injury. Shawn Marion and Matthew Dellavedova are likely to start in their respectively places. Cavs head coach David Blatt recently informed the media that Tristan Thompson (sore shoulder) hasn’t practiced this week and is a game-time decision heading into tonight’s game. Blatt, however, also added that Thompson’s condition is “not serious”. On the other side of the court, the Bucks will be playing without the services of rookie Johnny O’Bryant, who suffered a third degree sprain of his right MCL in the Buck’s second preseason game against Detroit. On the bright side for Milwaukee, Guard Nate Wolters is likely to play tonight after missed the last two games with a right ankle injury.

3 Things to Watch for tonight:

1. Expect Delly to Step Up!

After an ineffective performance last Saturday, Matthew Dellavedova only contributed 3 points and 4 assists as he fouled out in his first start of the season. Look for Delly to make a stronger case for back up Point Guard tonight. Coach Blatt might limit his minutes to experiment at the point with the likes of Dion Waiters or Joe Harris. Delly’s performance tonight is vital in earning more chances this preseason and eventually the regular season.

2. A true test for the Center Position

Guarding a big man like Giannis Antetokounmpo will be a challenge, but also an opportunity for Coach Blatt to determine who currently can fill the shoes of center, if anyone. The debate is between Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao, each with different assets on both ends of the floor. It will be interesting how Blatt approaches this rotation, but this will be very prominent in his decision to who starts at the 5.

3. Kevin Love’s Leadership

Whenever LeBron and Wade couldn’t play in Miami, Chris Bosh assumed the same role he had back in his days with the Toronto Raptors. Tonight, Kevin Love won’t have Kyrie or LeBron, forcing him to take on a similar leadership role and revert back to his Minnesotan mindset. How he responds and works with his role players will gauge how well he fits with the entire team. This experiment might lead to rotations that involve a smaller lineup that give Kevin Love more touches later in the season.

The 7pm tipoff at the Q will be televised live nationally on NBATV and locally on SportsTime Ohio.

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