With the Heat leaving Milwaukee to travel south to New Orleans, and the Bucks set to head westward to Los Angeles, these are two teams going in different directions. With the Bucks extending their winning streak to three games and the Heat's losing streak to nine games thanks to a 98-92 win at the Bradley Center, that only became more obvious.
- Mo Williams. Seemingly everyone has stepped up in Redd's absence to help make up for the 20+ points he provided nightly. While others have overshadowed Williams lately, he remains the most consistent offensive player with Redd missing. Still, his 35 points, six assists and 12 (!) free throws went above and beyond our normal expectations.
- Andrew Bogut. Bogut netted 17 points on just nine shots from the field. He didn't block any shots but came away with three steals, tying his season-high.
- Charlie Bell. Bell wasn't on the level of the last few games, but he did appear to settle into last year's form, doing a little bit of everything. He looks primed to regain his status as ignitor off the bench when Michael Redd returns. Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons are also acceptable choices for this spot.
- 4. That is the number of combined turnovers by guards Mo Williams, Charlie Bell, and Royal Ivey, in 106 total minutes.
- 48. Mo Williams played the whole game, and for many reasons. Tonight we happily watched 48 minutes of the Mo Williams Show, with commercials the only thing able to interrupt the protagonist.
- 2. Only two Heat players, Dwyane Wade and Jason Williams, scored in double figures. The Bucks had six players score ten or more points.
- Quick Start. Another first quarter win, another win. All five Bucks starters notched at least one assist in the first six minutes of the game, continuing to spread the ball around with Redd out of the lineup. Not long ago, starting Royal Ivey and Bobby Simmons together would have been a scary proposition, and not for opponents. But they continued to fit in pretty well playing against opposing team’s first-stringers. Mo Williams did his best Redd impression, scoring a quick nine points and Andrew Bogut also stayed warm on the offensive end out of the gates, giving the Bucks solid inside-outside balance. Some sloppy play turned an 11-point lead into a 25-23 advantage at the end of the first quarter. Still, the Bucks entered the second quarter, and more importantly and not coincidentally, finished the fourth quarter on top for the third game in a row.
- He's For Yi'l. Yi Jianlian is clearly going through a difficult offensive stretch. A lot has been made of the Bucks winning despite Michael Redd being sidelined. What is almost as improbable is that the Bucks have won three straight despite getting little on the offensive end from Yi, who had previously been one of their most consistent offensive players. He also ran into foul trouble tonight, further limiting his impact on the game. Still, he is finding other ways to contribute, as evidenced by his +21 rating. He came up with two big fourth quarter blocks, and altered Dwyane Wade’s shot before grabbing the rebound on a key possession down the stretch. For a rookie, he’s coping with this imperfect stretch quite well. And while we’ve known this for months now, he’s anything but soft. He shows a lot of intensity and confidence, and frankly, I’m grateful he’s in our corner.
- Handling With Care. Royal Ivey got roughed up on a couple screens by Ricky Davis, and rejected on a fastbreak when an around-the-back pass would have been just too appropriate apparently. He’s not much of an offensive force, but we knew that coming in. Ivey though, along with Mo Williams and Charlie Bell, took great care of the basketball, and as the only three guards playing, that’s supremely important. Refer to the first number on this recap for more proof of how the backcourt handled the ball with care.
- Closing Quarters. The Bucks entered tonight’s game with only two 10+ point wins all season. Strangely, they came against pretty good teams, the Raptors and Magic. In any event, their inability to string together four consecutive strong quarters has been a troubling trend. Tonight, they dominated for long stretches but continuously allowed the Heat to crawl back into the game. The Heat finished the first quarter on a 12-3 run and went on a 16-4 run before halftime. In both cases, Dwyane Wade, seemingly annoyed with his team’s incompetence, did most of the damage, slicing through the lane and to the basket in his trademarked fashion. In the third quarter, it was more of the same, as the Heat closed on a 16-6 run, even momentarily taking the lead away from the Bucks. It's great to chalk up another win, but let's be honest, only two, maybe two and a half players really showed up for the Heat, and the Bucks still had trouble putting them away.
- Getting Blount'd. This is somewhat picky, but for some reason the Heat have gone to Mark Blount early in both games against the Bucks with too much success for my comfort. In the first matchup, Blount scored five points in the first eight minutes and tonight he chipped in nine points in the first seven minutes. Sure, he scattered in a few travels, but it's hard to tell which is more disconcerting: that the Heat go to Blount early, or that the Bucks can't stop him?
- Easy Buckets.The Heat struggled shooting the ball from the perimeter all night long, but their aggressiveness netted them some much-needed easy points. They definitely didn't make all of those quarter-ending runs by hitting outside shots. Plus, it’s never a good sign when the worst free-throw shooting team in the NBA gets more points from the line, especially when you’re at home, but that’s what happened to the Bucks tonight. The Heat not only converted more often from the line (28-24), they made a better percentage (77.8 % - 75.0 %).