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Cavaliers-Bucks Preview

AP - Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks moved into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race after their most recent win, and they're hoping a blockbuster trade will help keep them there.

One night after acquiring high-scoring guard Monta Ellis, Milwaukee seeks its fourth straight victory Wednesday night when it hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers, who can tie the Bucks in the East standings by ending a four-game skid in the series.

Milwaukee (18-24) shipped former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut and the disgruntled Stephen Jackson to Golden State on Tuesday in exchange for Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown.

It's unclear if any of the new acquisitions will be in uniform Wednesday, though the deal will pair Ellis in the backcourt with another offensive-minded guard in Brandon Jennings, who netted 34 points in Monday's 105-99 victory over New Jersey. With the win, the Bucks moved into a tie with New York for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

"This is an important win for us," Jennings said. "Right now, we're trying to get to the eighth or seventh spot. That's our main focus, just trying to win basketball games.''

Mike Dunleavy added 15 points off the bench.

"Offensively, if we share the ball, we have a lot of guys that can pass, score and shoot," Dunleavy said. "If we keep sharing it, then it will work for us.''

The addition of Ellis adds another offensive force, though his numbers have dipped from the previous two seasons. He's averaging 21.9 points - down from 25.5 in 2009-10 and 24.1 in 2010-11 - and is shooting 43.3 percent, which is below his career mark of 46.5.

"It's not a bad thing, man,'' Ellis said of being traded. "Not at all. We are going to another team to do the same thing we love to do."

Brown, like Bogut a former No. 1 overall pick, hasn't played since Jan. 10 due to a torn pectoral muscle and is likely out for the season, while Udoh is averaging 5.5 points in just under 22 minutes per game.

Seeking to win four straight for the first time since April 3-9, 2010, Milwaukee will try to hold off the Cavaliers (16-24), who saw their own three-game winning streak end Tuesday with a 96-88 home loss to Toronto.

Kyrie Irving continued his struggles, finishing with 14 points and seven assists but shooting 5 for 17 after hitting only 5 of 15 shots Sunday in a win over Houston.

Antawn Jamison, who scored a season-high 34 points in a 113-112 overtime loss to Milwaukee at home Feb. 10 and netted a team-high 20 in Tuesday's loss, has been mentioned in trade rumors with the deadline approaching.

For his part, Cleveland coach Byron Scott believes a playoff run is possible with his current group.

"I like this team,'' Scott said. "I like the guys we have. The guys who have been rumored to be going from here to there, I love the way these guys have been able to play with this team and what they give to this organization, but I've been in this league long enough to understand things might happen."

The Bucks have won the last three meetings between these teams in Milwaukee.

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