Dellavedova faces former team as Bucks host Cavaliers
MILWAUKEE — The Cleveland Cavaliers will see a familiar face Tuesday when they try to extend their four-game winning streak against the Bucks in Milwaukee.
Matthew Dellavedova spent his first three NBA seasons in a Cavaliers uniform and was a key backup on last year's team, which rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the finals to win the franchise's first championship.
“I'm looking forward to catching up with them and seeing them,” Dellavedova told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Obviously you develop strong relationships and friendships with not only the players, but the coaches and training staff.”
The 26-year-old signed a $38 million offer sheet from Milwaukee during the off-season and has since moved into a starting role with the Bucks, who coveted his ability to both shoot and defend the 3-pointer.
The move has paid off thus far; Dellavedova is averaging 7.9 points per game and shooting 34 percent from distance.
“It will be a little bit funny playing against them for the first time,” Dellavedova said. “But I should know their tendencies pretty well.”
Cleveland comes to Milwaukee on a roll, extending their winning streak to four games after a 112-108 victory over the 76ers on Sunday.
The victory came despite a slow start. The Cavaliers missed their first 14 shots and trailed by as many as 14 before closing the first half on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to six. They outscored Philadelphia 35-27 in the final quarter to pull away for their Eastern Conference-leading 13th victory of the season.
“When you have great players, it can come from any of us at any given moment,” Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving said. “When one of us gets it going, we always continue to go to that person. It can be anybody's night. We're always trusting each other. That fourth quarter was just for me to be aggressive.”
The defending NBA champs have won five of their last six contests against the Bucks, including three of the last four in Milwaukee.
They've shot 49 percent during that six-game stretch, averaging 109 points and a margin of victory of 12.2 points per game.
The Bucks beat Orlando 104-96 Sunday, their second victory over the Magic in the last week, but are 3-6 in their last nine games overall.
“We knew we'd have to play better than we did against them at home,” Dellavedova said. “The bench came in and did a great job. Hook (John Henson) was great on both ends.”
The two teams will meet three times before the year's end, including a back-to-back set Dec. 20 and 21 in Milwaukee and Cleveland, respectively.
“It's going to be a tough game,” said Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. “We've been playing all these good teams and we've been close in every game.
“We're right there; we've just got to open the door.”
The Cavaliers are expected to be without Channing Frye, whose father passed away on Thanksgiving. Iman Schumpert is considered questionable with a strained left ankle.