Preview: Bucks vs. Cavaliers
MILWAUKEE — Visiting players are still getting used to the Milwaukee Bucks‘ brand-new arena.
Fortunately for the Cleveland Cavaliers, they’ll have a pair of pretty knowledgeable tour guides when they make the trek to Milwaukee for a Monday night contest against the Central Division-leading Bucks.
Cleveland acquired forward John Henson and point guard Matthew Dellavedova, along with a pair of draft picks, from the Bucks Friday night in exchange for veteran point guard George Hill and third-year forward Sam Dekker — who was later shipped by the Bucks to Washington for center Jason Smith.
George had been mentoring rookie point guard Collin Sexton, Cleveland’s first-round draft pick, this past summer. That role will now fall to Dellavedova, who went from an undrafted rookie to a key cog on the Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA Championship squad, making a name for himself with tenacious effort on defense and an ability to create for his teammates on the offensive end.
“He will be good for Collin on the days that we do practice, he will be good for Collin because of the way he plays, how scrappy he is,” Cavs center Tristan Thompson said of Dellavedova. “When he gets in, it’s those kinds of plays that he makes, it’s momentum swings and high energy so we will definitely embrace that.”
Henson is sidelined until at least spring after undergoing wrist surgery but Dellavedova, who received a standing ovation from Cleveland fans Saturday night against Washington could see his first action Monday night.
“It makes me feel great,” Dellavedova said. “My time here was really special and I loved every minute of it. It makes me excited to get back out there and play for everyone in this city because it’s a special place.”
Hill and Smith joined the team Sunday in Toronto but did not suit up for the Bucks’ 104-99 victory. With a short turnaround before facing the Cavaliers, the team isn’t scheduled to have a formal practice or shoot-around session Monday morning but Budenholzer said his staff was working on getting both players acclimated to a new system.
“We’ll find a way to get them some time (Monday) morning and get them familiar with our terminology,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’re definitely looking forward for finding a way for them to help us.”
They join a Milwaukee squad that bounced back from a 10-point loss to Golden State Friday night with an impressive victory Sunday evening in Toronto and will be looking to post consecutive victories for the first time since a three-game winning streak in late-November.
The Bucks have gone 4-4 since that streak, which featured victories over the Bulls, Nuggets and Blazers, but their last two victories have come against Detroit and Toronto, two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s very early, it’s December,” Budenholzer said. “But it’s certainly good to go on the road and win in a tough environment. We just have to keep building on this.
“We’re just building and trying to get better.”