MILWAUKEE – It’s been a whirlwind couple of days for the Milwaukee Bucks, who mixed two games against elite NBA opposition with a multi-player trade. After the wild weekend that was, it was now time to take a deep breath and handle their business against Matthew Dellavedova and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yes, the Australian point guard was traded to Cleveland, and in a weird twist of fate, found himself making his debut against his former friends.
Ironically, the schedule actually helped Dellavedova out, as he was afforded some precious time to continue to pack, in preparation to move back to the city that earned him his lucrative contract with the Bucks.
The game itself was hardly an enthralling contest, with a sparse crowd --by early season standards-- on hand to see the Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Bucks trounce the Cavs, 108-92.
At morning shootaround, Dellavedova was seen walking through some sets with assistant coaches, getting a crash course on the offense just hours before tip-off. As expected, he checked in early in the game, receiving warm applause from Bucks fans who wanted to show their appreciation for his 126-game contribution to the franchise.
“It was pretty cool,” Dellavedova said about the reception.
“It was surprising that everyone showed a little love, I really appreciate that. It makes me feel very welcomed, and my wife as well.”
For the first time on an NBA floor, we witnessed Thon Maker and Dellavedova on the floor as opposition. Post-trade, Maker spoke to how weird the feeling would be to play against his long-time teammate.
“I can’t picture it, but it’s the league, you just have to find a way to stay focused,” Maker said. “We’re all friends off the court, but it will be different.”
Earlier in the season, Thon Maker coined the term ‘the Aussie connection’ anytime those two linked up on the floor. Tonight, we witnessed a variation of that connection, as Dellavedova buried a three on one end, before Maker got loose for a transition dunk on the other.
Dellavedova played 15:45 on the night, though those minutes were largely meaningless, with the Bucks running up a lead as big as 29 points in the third quarter. Cleveland never took the lead at any stage on the night.
Finishing with a season-high 11 points and four assists, Dellavedova worked on building chemistry with new teammates. Post-game, Dellavedova played down the difficulty of finding a rhythm in his new colours.
“It’s still basketball, so just to get out there was good. I’ve been putting the work in even though I haven’t been playing, so my game feels good, my body feels good. After the last three days of travelling, it was good to just play.”
For the Bucks, Maker had six points and three rebounds, while also seeing 15 minutes of action.
In the end, the contest played out exactly how we anticipated it would. After all, both teams are on the opposite ends of the spectrum - the Bucks are contending, and the Cavaliers could be in line to receive a top pick in next year’s NBA draft.
Cleveland now falls to 6-21 on the season, while Milwaukee moved to 18-8, ten games over .500 for the first time since 2010.
The Milwaukee Bucks travel to face the Indiana Pacers on Thursday morning – Tip-off is at 11:00am (AEST)
The Cleveland Cavaliers host the New York Knicks on Thursday morning – Tip-off is at 11:00am (AEST)