After the much-publicized wakeup call among its starters, the Cleveland Cavaliers responded positively. LeBron James, Kevin Love, and the rest of the team have proven that even if Giannis Antetokounmpo showed up with another MVP-level performance, they can still defeat the Milwaukee Bucks so long as they play together as one team. And they did.

Following a dismal performance against the Atlanta Hawks last Sunday and Dwyane Wade’s comments about their starting lineup, the starters reached out to their full potential. After only scoring 51 points against the Hawks, the Cavaliers’ starters dropped 97 points against the Milwaukee Bucks.

First three quarters

In their second meeting this season, the Cleveland Cavaliers came up on top once again, but not after another scare from the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks. Though the Cavs managed to grab the lead after the first quarter, 39-28, the Bucks mustered a successful comeback, ultimately gaining the lead at the half, 67-65.

By the end of the third quarter, the Cavaliers managed to grab the lead once again by outscoring the Bucks, 29-23. At the start of the fourth quarter, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue found an effective way to give LeBron and Kevin some extended rest.

Small-ball lineup

With the Bucks playing small-ball lineup, coach Ty was forced to make an unusual combination to counter the faster opponent: Dwyane Wade, J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, and Jeff Green. Obviously missing to get extended rests were LeBron James and Kevin Love, who looked fully recovered from the mysterious illness which downed him during the game against the Atlanta Hawks.

“We brought J.R. back in and found a little offense that we can run now when we play Jeff at the 5, LeBron at the 5,” Cavs coach Ty Lue said as posted on “It was good – those guys played really good together, extended the lead, and allowed Kevin (Love) and Bron to get some rest.”

Faster, more spacing

“We never used that group,” Wade said about coach Ty’s small-ball combination.

Though he admitted that at some point in this season, the Cavaliers will be forced to make adjustments based on how the opponents will play.

The combination of two shooters forced the Bucks to open up, paving way for the Cavaliers to attack the basket. “Whenever Kyle is out there, he's dynamic because everyone has to pay attention to him. Then you put J.R., another shooter. It was fun for me playing in that group, playing with those guys,” Wade fondly recalled on how this new combination helped their team.

During that stretch of a little over five minutes, Cleveland outscored Milwaukee, even forcing three turnovers. With enough rest, LeBron James scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting and 3-of-4 from the free throw line in the final quarter. Kevin Love scored 32 points and grabbed 16 rebounds – eight on the offensive end – both season-highs.

The wakeup call also touched JR Smith, pouring 20 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting. Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade dropped 10 points apiece; all Cleveland Cavaliers players scored at least 4 points.