Bucks, Giannis look to exact revenge on Cavs

Field Level Media

The Milwaukee Bucks don't have to look too far into the rearview mirror to find motivation for their next contest.

The NBA-best Bucks (54-19) look to avenge a loss to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers (19-54) on Sunday when the Central Division rivals meet in Milwaukee.

Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out his second straight game in Wednesday's 107-102 road setback to the Cavaliers before returning two nights later to score 27 points in the Bucks' 116-87 romp over visiting Miami.

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Antetokounmpo showed no ill effects of a right ankle sprain by scoring Milwaukee's first 11 points to lead the team to just its sixth win in 11 outings after emerging victorious in 48 of its previous 62.

"It's always in the back of your head, but at the end of the day there's some injuries that you've got to fight through it and there's sometimes that your team needs you out there," the 24-year-old Antetokounmpo, who also collected eight rebounds and seven assists versus the Heat, told the media afterwards.

"Definitely, I just wanted to be out there," Antetokounmpo added. "I don't think I've ever missed three games in a row in my career, so I didn't want to do it. I don't like missing games. It's a pride thing, it's an ego thing, but I was definitely close to being 100 percent before (Friday's) game."

While Antetokounmpo missed last week's contest against Cleveland, he erupted for 44 points on 14-of-19 shooting and added 14 rebounds in Milwaukee's 114-102 win at Cleveland on Dec. 14.

Friday's contest also saw the returns of guards George Hill and Sterling Brown. Hill scored eight points in his return after missing Wednesday's contest against Cleveland due to right groin soreness while Brown logged nearly 15 minutes off the bench after sitting out 13 games with right wrist soreness.

"It's great to have close to a full complement of players," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said told reporters. "You see the difference. Guys just kind of slide into their roles and everybody just excelled (on Friday). Hopefully we can keep working, stay healthy and get more of this."

The Bucks suffered another setback Saturday night with reports that center Pau Gasol will miss the rest of the regular season with an injured left ankle. Gasol is expected to miss about a month.

Forward Khris Middleton has recorded three straight double-doubles for the first time in his career, including following up 26 points and 12 rebounds against Cleveland with 18 points and 10 assists versus Miami.

Cleveland rookie guard Collin Sexton cemented his 25-point performance in the win over Milwaukee with a late 3-pointer and a driving layup in the final minute of the fourth quarter.

The 20-year-old Sexton then reached the 20-point plateau for the eighth straight game after shooting 9 of 15 from the floor for 20 points in Friday's 110-108 setback to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Five-time All-Star forward Kevin Love had a team-high 22 points versus the Clippers to bounce back from a 1-for-10 performance against the Bucks.

"It's been good to see ourselves play well against teams that are fighting for playoff spots, that are in the playoffs, that are going to play postseason basketball. So I think it's good," the 30-year-old Love said. "This is something that we wanted to finish the season (doing), and I think it's good to take those strides in the right direction whether we win or we lose, so long as we're fighting to get better."

Cleveland, which is just 6-29 away from home, plays six of its last nine games of the season on the road.

--Field Level Media

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