James looks to lead the Cavaliers to their eighth win in nine games when they take on the Bucks.
James averaged better than 36 points per game but got little help from his teammates as the Cavs went 1-5 to start December, including a 111-106 loss to the Bucks on Dec. 10 in which he scored 52 points. The 21-year-old has averaged 30.6 points since that defeat, with Cleveland going 7-2 during that span.
He scored 30 points on 11-of-22 shooting to go with seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals Saturday as the Cavs beat the Eastern Conference-leading Detroit Pistons 97-84.
“That’s a good team that came into our building,” Hughes said. “We think we’re supposed to win.”
Cleveland held Detroit to 35.8 percent shooting from the field to win its third straight at home over the Pistons.
“I told LeBron, ‘It’s just like when Chicago won the championship. If you want to go deep in the playoffs, then this (Detroit) is the team we have to go through. This is the team we have to beat,”’ reserve forward Donyell Marshall said. “That’s a very big step for us.”
The Cavs, who return home for a three-game homestand after facing the Bucks, look to snap a seven-game skid in Milwaukee since a 115-109 overtime win on March 8, 2002.
The Bucks, who trail the second-place Cavs by one game in the Central, beat Chicago 93-92 Monday for their second straight victory.
The Bucks quickly erased an 11-point deficit by going on a 22-6 run in the third quarter. Redd was just 4-for-14 from the field in the first half before hitting six shots in the third quarter.
“I like the way our team came out in the second half with a little sense of urgency and got back into the game quickly,” Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. “He (Redd) kind of struggled with some of his shots in the first half. He’s a good scorer and a good shooter. He had the confidence to keep going.”
STANDINGS (through Jan. 3): Cavaliers - 2nd place, 6 1/2 GB, Central Division. Bucks - 3rd place, 7 1/2 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Cavaliers - James, 30.4 ppg and 5.6 apg; Gooden, 8.5 rpg. Bucks - Redd, 24.7 ppg; Magloire, 9.9 rpg; T.J. Ford, 6.7 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Bucks, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 10; Bucks, 111-106. At Milwaukee, Ford scored 24 points, Redd had 23 and Bogut added 21 to help the Bucks overcome a 19-for-29 shooting performance from James.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cavaliers - 5-7 on the road; Bucks - 9-5 at home.