CLEVELAND (AP/WJW) — Kevin Love made eight 3-pointers and scored 32 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers took the No. 8 play-in spot — and a matchup against Brooklyn — with a 133-115 victory Sunday over the Milwaukee Bucks, who rested superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and their other regulars for the regular-season finale.
The Cavs were in jeopardy of falling all the way to the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference with a loss.
However, they ended any suspense immediately, scoring the first 14 points and dominating a team of backups to the Bucks’ backups. The Cavs made 10 3-pointers while building a 28-point lead in the first quarter and Cleveland led by 33 at half.
Love did all his damage in 15 minutes, matching his career high for 3s and adding 10 rebounds. Rookie Evan Mobley added 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bucks whittled a 40-point deficit to 12 in the fourth against Cleveland’s reserves before the Cavs regained control.
After winning just 22 games a year ago, the Cavs weren’t expected to be anywhere near the playoffs. But here they are and will face the Nets in Brooklyn on Tuesday night with the winner advancing to the first round.
The loser plays the winner of the 9-10 game between Charlotte and Atlanta for the eighth seed.
Cleveland went 1-3 against Brooklyn this season, but the Cavs led the Nets in the fourth quarter on Friday night before collapsing in crunch time.
Milwaukee rookie Sandro Mamukelashvili had a season-high 28 points and added 13 rebounds.
With a top-three seed already secured, the Bucks rested Antetokounmpo along with starters Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis — a reward for the defending NBA champs having another solid year.
Jrue Holiday started for the Bucks but played just seven seconds. He would earn a bonus by playing, so Holiday took the floor for the jump ball, immediately committed a foul and checked out.
Assuming they get the No. 3 seed (No. 2 Boston plays at Memphis on Sunday night), the Bucks will play No. 6 Chicago in the first round and avoid an early matchup against Brooklyn, which took Milwaukee to seven games in the conference semifinals last season.
The Cavaliers, who have maneuvered around injuries all season, are still without All-Star center Jarrett Allen. He hasn’t played since breaking a finger on March 5, but might be ready for the postseason.
Cavaliers: C Moses Brown, who initially signed on March 10 and has started five games, had his two-way contract converted to a standard NBA pact. He’s now eligible for the play-in tournament and playoffs. … Cleveland used 26 players this season, the second-highest total in franchise history. … The Cavaliers went 24-13 against teams with losing records. … Bickerstaff said one of his pregame rituals is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “Gotta be grape,” he said with a laugh when asked of his jelly preference. “I don’t eat strawberry. It’s offensive.”
Cavaliers: Will make their first play-in appearance Tuesday at Barclays Center against the Brooklyn Nets. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.