Riding four-game win streak, Cavaliers seek revenge on Bucks

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After completing a 4-0 homestand, the Cleveland Cavaliers will head back on the road to face the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

Cleveland is looking to avenge a 113-98 loss to Milwaukee on Nov. 16, when center Brook Lopez shot 7 for 9 from 3-point range and scored 29 points to lead the Bucks.

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The loss marked the Cavaliers’ fifth straight at the time, but the team’s fortunes quickly turned with wins over the Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers.

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Donovan Mitchell scored 34 points and Jarrett Allen had a season-high 24 points and 13 rebounds in Wednesday’s 114-96 victory over Portland.

“Defenses have a tough decision to make on how they’ll guard us,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “A lot of times, they’ll err on the side of defending Donovan, but he’s a willing passer. And that’s where Jarrett does a great job of finding those gaps.”

The Cavaliers face a tough matchup against the Bucks, who are 9-2 at home.

One of the two losses came Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls, who forced 20 turnovers and withstood a late charge by the Bucks in a 118-113 victory.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to lead Milwaukee, while Lopez scored 20 points and Jrue Holiday had 14 points and 11 assists.

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DeMar DeRozan had 36 points for Chicago, which was 18 of 42 (42.9 percent) from 3-point range.

“They have good players and they shot the ball well obviously,” Lopez said. “It’s tough because DeMar is a heck of a player and he made a lot of tough shots. It was definitely a good learning experience for us. We’ve got some good film to look at.”

Antetokounmpo continues to provide five-star performances for Milwaukee, which is in the midst of a four-game homestand. The two-time MVP is averaging 30.5 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists.

The Bucks’ perimeter game received a boost on Wednesday when shooting guard Wesley Matthews returned after missing three games with a right hamstring strain.

Matthews had six points in 17 minutes off the bench against Chicago.

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Cleveland is monitoring the status of both guard Caris LeVert and forward Kevin Love. LeVert has missed the past two games with a left ankle sprain, while Love has been inactive for two of the past three games due to a fractured right thumb.

Love is planning to play through the pain when possible, but he was also battling an illness on Wednesday and is listed as day-to-day. Love is averaging 10.6 points and 7.2 rebounds.

Bickerstaff has been impressed by the play of third-year pro Lamar Stevens, who moved into the starting lineup four games ago.

The 6-foot-6 forward is averaging 9.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in his last seven games while playing a key role on the defensive end.

“He’s got great poise. He’s not afraid of the moment. There’s not a matchup he doesn’t believe he’s got the favor,” Bickerstaff said. “The threesome — him and Jarrett (Allen) and Evan (Mobley) — it’s tough defensively. We’re working to find that balance, but I think he’s done a great job so far.”

–Field Level Media

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