In the second battle with the Heat in less than a week, the Bucks did show a little bit more of a pulse, but were basically playing the role of the nerdy kid who would swing wildly at the bully while he held their head and laughed loudly. When the Bucks threatened to land a punch (got the lead down to 14 in the fourth!), Miami would throw a quick jab into the Bucks' midsection, making them crumble to the ground (subsequent 13-0 run by the Heat) and cruised to a 96-77 victory.
In the previous matchup, LeBron James spent a majority of the game trying to get others going, leading to a season-low 13 point output. This time around he decided to push the pedal down early and attack the Bucks' defense, punishing whoever tried to man him, especially in the post. When LeBron wasn't a human snowplow, he was doing things like this.
After this thunderous slam, my vision became blurry and my ears began ringing, so it was hard to focus for a while, but James finished with 17p/8a/4r on 7-12 shooting in three quarters of very efficient exercise. He is pretty good at basketball, if you did not know that. He can control a game without dominating the scoring. I wonder what having a guy on your team who can do that feels like.
- The Bucks managed to put up ten more points against the stifling Heat defense this time around, but couldn't get much consistency out of anyone other than Ramon Sessions (19p/6a). Brandon Knight (11p/5r) struggled to do point guard things, oftentimes finding himself stuck in a well-devised trap employed by the Heat whenever he would reach the free throw line extended. This forced Knight into five turnovers and many other instances where he would make a unproductive pass, be forced into a difficult shot, or just get bodied and tumble to the hardwood. Knight has struggled a little bit of late, and it wouldn't be outlandish to suggest that Knight has maybe hit a bit of a wall after taking on a much larger workload offensively than most people expected. It's hard to definitively say he has hit. I don't know, what do you think?
- Larry Drew noted in his post-game interview that, against Miami, you can't be content with just playing defense for the majority of the possession. Miami does a fantastic job of moving the ball around until the correct shot is available, and the Bucks were often one closeout or rotation short of finishing off the possession. Unfortunately those finishes didn't happen,and that's how we end up with Miami shooting 50.6 percent from the field.
- I don't want to be that guy who gripes extensively about minute distribution, but tonight was just...odd. John Henson, after playing seven minutes in the first half, picked up two fouls and wasn't heard from until just over the 2-minute mark in the third quarter. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who did not have two early fouls, played a few more seconds than Henson did in the first half and didn't return until Henson did in the third. Neither Henson nor Antetokounmpo were playing out of their skulls in their brief action (10p/1r and 5p/2r respectively) but it's hard to justify playing them so scarcely when the starters weren't exactly clicking on all cylinders (though Pachulia did snatch a surprising 16 rebounds). Granted nobody on this team was going to have much success against the Heat, but the disparity in those minute loads is quite strange.
- Once again, I advise you to not look at Khris Middleton's line. He still played 32 minutes, though! Every starter played at least 25 minutes and 80 percent of them played over 30! Ramon Sessions played 45 minutes!
- The Bucks still hold that two game advantage over the Sixers in the payoff race, with only seven games remaining on the season. I believe that puts the magic number at 6. I think? I'm terrible with numbers.