(Cleveland, OH) — Fueled by a combined 48 points from Kevin Love and Dion Waiters, the Cleveland Cavaliers remain undefeated at 3-0 in the preseason with a 106-100 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night.
The duo connected of 16 of 24 shots from the field, with Love (who finished with 25 points) nailing five three-pointers and Waiters three. Shawn Marion led all Cleveland rebounders with seven on the night.
The Cavaliers were playing without the trio of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. James’ absence was the first instance of the team purposely sitting him out of a game, while Irving is still recovering from a slightly sprained ankle suffered in practice prior to the team’s trip to Brazil. Thompson sat out out the game due to a sore shoulder.
After the game, Waiters said the absence of the three players was a testament to the team’s depth saying,
“We still have the guys to get it done.” He also noted that he kept finding Love open, and that, “the most important thing is sharing the ball.”
For much of the game, the two teams had traded leads, with the Cavaliers finally taking the lead for good on the strength of three players who are currently on the bubble. Forward Shane Edwards tied the game at 91 with 5:06 left on a dunk, and was followed 27 seconds later by A.J. Price‘s three-pointer. Chris Crawford then hit a three of his own, followed by another Price basket to make it 99-91 in favor of Cleveland with 3:08 to go.
One quarter earlier, Milwaukee had taken its biggest lead of the game at 68-63 with 7:09 left, but within a 68-second span, Cleveland tallied 10 points to regain the lead at 73-68. The surge began with an off-balance jumper by Love, while a pair of treys from Waiters were sandwiched around Love’s floor-length pass to an open Marion, who picked up the easy dunk.
In the first half, the two teams traded baskets early on before Cleveland appeared to take control of the contest, going on a 12-2 run to hold a 24-13 advantage with 3:29 left in the opening quarter.
However, Milwaukee soon couldn’t miss from the field, going on a 22-7 run of their own. The Bucks first connected on their last five outside shots of the quarter to whittle the Cavalier advantage to just four at 31-27. Milwaukee then scored the first eight points of quarter number two to take a 35-31 lead.
Each team traded leads along with a few scoring deadlocks for the remainder of the quarter, with Cleveland then taking a 51-45 advantage following a pair of free throws from rookie center Alex Kirk. The Bucks then ran off the last eight points to lead at the break at 53-51.
The only down note of the evening came with just over two minutes left in the third quarter when Anderson Varejao left the game for good after banging knees with Milwaukee’s Ersan Ilyasova. No word on his status for tomorrow night’s game against the Indiana Pacers.
That preseason clash against the Pacers will take place on the campus of Xavier University in Cincinnati. Tipoff is scheduled for shortly after 7 p.m. Eastern.