Giannis Antetokounmpo continues his pursuit of an NBA double-double record when he encounters the team that almost ended his streak the first time around, as the Milwaukee Bucks visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
The Bucks have won nine in a row, and the Cavaliers have dropped eight of nine entering the teams' second meeting of the season.
Milwaukee won the first easily, 129-112 at Cleveland on Oct. 28, but did so with great balance rather than a great performance by the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player.
In what was the Bucks' third game of the season, Antetokounmpo kept his streak of double-figure scoring games alive, but he barely made the rebound threshold with 10 despite playing into the game's 46th minute.
Fifteen games later, the 14 points stand as his fewest of the season, eight fewer than any other game. The 10 rebounds are tied for fewest with three other games.
Antetokounmpo has posted double-doubles in all 18 of the Cavaliers' games. The record for most consecutive double-doubles to start an NBA season is 34, set by Bill Walton in 1977.
Antetokounmpo had another of his 10-rebound games on Wednesday in Milwaukee's 111-102 home win over the Atlanta Hawks. He scored 30 points -- 20 fewer than the total he poured on Monday against the visiting Utah Jazz.
There were fewer shots to be had Wednesday with the return of Middleton from a seven-game absence caused by a bruised left thigh. Middleton contributed 16 points to the win, making five of his 13 shots.
Middleton also found time for three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 20 minutes, recording a team-best plus-13 plus/minus off the bench.
"He understands how to get people involved, can make reads and decisions," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said after the win. "He can play for himself or play for others -- he does a lot of things well. I think he just calms the group down and he's a smart, smart player (who) understands what we want to do. It's great to have him back."
Few teams have as many double-double threats as the Cavaliers, who got 13 points and 15 rebounds from Tristan Thompson and 11 points and 10 rebounds from Larry Nance Jr. on Wednesday in a 116-104 home loss to the Orlando Magic.
Throw in Kevin Love, and at least one of the three has recorded a double-double in 14 of the team's 18 games. Two of them have done it in the same game seven times, including the first meeting with the Bucks, when Love had 15 points and 16 rebounds while Thompson had 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Like Middleton, Love returned from an injury -- a bruised lower back -- to play Wednesday against the Magic, but he had little impact with nine points and five rebounds. He was limited to 24 minutes.
Love had two of Cleveland's 25 turnovers on a night when rookie coach John Beilein left the arena scratching his head over the high number of traveling calls.
"It's not even a judgment thing," Beilein told reporters, noting that teams have been warned it's a point of emphasis this season. "It's a thing you've been doing for years and now you can't do it anymore, and that's what really gets me frustrated."
--Field Level Media