Dribbles: Cavs best be prepared for these young Bucks

Second-year point guard Michael Carter-Williams still seems to be finding his way with the Bucks.

Frank Franklin II/Frank Franklin II/Associated Pre

Cavaliers at Bucks

Tip-off: BMO Bradley Center, Milwaukee, 3 p.m.

Records: Cavaliers 45-26; Bucks 34-35.

TV: FOX Sports Ohio (Cavaliers Live pregame show at 2:30). Radio: Cavaliers Radio Network, 1100-WTAM AM Flagship; 1590-WAKR AM Akron.

Projected Starters

Cavaliers: C Timofey Mozgov; PF Kevin Love; SF LeBron James; SG J.R. Smith; PG Kyrie Irving.

Bucks: C Zaza Pachulia; PF Ersan Ilyasova; SF Giannis Antetokounmpo; SG Khris Middleton; PG Michael Carter-Williams.

Injury Report

Cavaliers: C/F Anderson Varejao (Achilles) out.

Bucks: G O.J. Mayo (hamstring) out; G/F Jared Dudley (back) out; F Jabari Parker (knee) out; F Damien Inglis (ankle) out.

Dribbles

With playoffs clinched, Cavs must remain sharp

1. With 11 games to go, the Cavs are closing in on securing the second seed in the playoffs. Neither Toronto nor Chicago seem to be making up much ground. And the Bucks, it seems, are pretty much locked into the sixth seed.

2. That’s a real credit to Jason Kidd — in just his second season as a head coach and first in Milwaukee. Kidd’s first season in Brooklyn was sort of an embarrassment. He was not the right man for a veteran team such as the Nets. But he has the younger Bucks believing in very good things. He has their ear, he has their respect. In the NBA, that’s at least, like, 72.3 percent of it.

3. The Bucks won’t win a title, but they will get some valuable playoff experience. That’s an important step for young players such as Michael Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Even Khris Middleton, drafted in 2012, is only 23.

4. Add injured No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker to a playoff team, and the Bucks could have something special really soon. Just look what Al Horford’s return to a playoff team did for the Hawks. Parker was off to a better start than Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins, and Wiggins will likely win Rookie of the Year.  

5. That said, the Bucks really struggled since trading Brandon Knight to the Suns and landing Carter-Williams from the Sixers (and guard Tyler Ennis and center Miles Plumlee from Phoenix). Knight was having a career season under Kidd, but now the Bucks are waiting for MCW to get the hang of things, too.

6. The Bucks have lost five straight entering Sunday and 12 of 15. Trust me when I say the Cavs wouldn’t be hurt if such a young team slipped to the No. 7 seed and became a first-round playoff matchup. The Cavs, of course, can do their part to push the Bucks in that direction.

8. This season will also mark the first playoff appearance for the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova. "It feels amazing," Irving said after the playoff-clinching win over the Pacers on Friday. "I was just talking to K-Love, and all of us coming together as a team and making the playoffs is an amazing thing."

9. Clearly, the Cavs are entering the last days of the regular season on an upswing — having won 26 of their previous 32 games. They really only need to win five or six of these last 11 games to maintain the second seed. That could mean some rest is coming for a few of the key guys. Also, the schedule lightens up here a bit in the final weeks, with at least a little more time off between games.