LeBron James can use a little help.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers need a win and some assistance to claim the second seed in the Eastern Conference as they wrap up their season at home against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
The Cavaliers (49-32) and Bulls are tied for second in the East, but Chicago holds the tiebreaker. Since the three division winners can be seeded no lower than fourth, Cleveland needs to win this game and have Chicago lose at home to New Jersey to grab the No. 2 seed, otherwise the Cavaliers will drop to the No. 5 seed and play reigning NBA champion Miami in the first round yet still have home-court advantage.
“We’ve got to take care of business on our home court,” James said. “We’ll be rooting for the Nets.”
The Cavaliers kept themselves in contention for the higher seed with a 98-92 victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday as James scored 18 points and Larry Hughes had a team-high 22. While coach Mike Brown expects there to be scoreboard watching, he also is hoping his team doesn’t look past the Bucks (28-53) - the second-worst team in the East.
“Milwaukee is not going to lie down for us,” Brown said. “It’s going to be a tough game at home and we have to come in with the right mind frame to get a win.”
James is confident that regardless of the first-round opponent, the Cavaliers are ready for a deep postseason run after losing to Detroit in seven games in last season’s conference semifinals.
“We’re real confident. We believe we can beat anyone no matter who we match up against,” he said. “We’ve got guys in the inside and outside. Defensively, we’re one of the best teams in the NBA, so that’s not a problem.”
A victory would give the Cavaliers consecutive 50-win seasons for just the second time in franchise history. They also accomplished the feat in 1991-92 and 1992-93 but were eliminated from the playoffs both times by the Bulls.
Milwaukee (28-53) will finish with its worst record since going 25-57 in the 1995-96 season. The injury-ravaged Bucks won for just the third time in their last 15 games with a 102-96 victory over Atlanta on Monday as Mo Williams scored 26 points and Ruben Patterson added 23.
In an otherwise dismal season for the Bucks, Patterson has stepped up and needs one rebound to finish with single-season career highs in points, assists, steals and rebounds. He is averaging 14.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals entering this contest.
“Guys probably just look at Ruben Patterson as a defensive player,” Patterson said. adding that this season ha been “a great opportunity to show the world my talent and now they see that I’m a scorer.”
Bucks leading scorer Michael Redd did not play due to pain in his left knee and is not expected to play in this game.
The Cavaliers are trying to sweep the season series for the first time since 1995-96 and have won the last six between the teams. James has averaged 29.2 points in 14 lifetime games against the Bucks and has eight 30-point games against them.