Milwaukee caught fire in the first quarter, but as has been the case in the bubble, fouls and turnovers opened the door for the Heat to stabilize and bring things back even. The third quarter was particularly tense, as both teams’ defenses were getting dialed in, but Miami kept earning whistles and Milwaukee couldn’t hold serve.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished the game at 18 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists (with 6 turnovers); he was flat-out bad. His first half was marred by foul trouble and he had trouble finding opportunities against a disciplined Miami defensive wall. He rarely got chances to score up close because of how often the Heat forced the ball out of his hands; when he did, it had to be a spectacular effort.
Khris Middleton had the opposite problem, putting up 28 points, 6 boards, and 5 assists and looking all-around impressive, but his first half was vastly superior to his second. Brook Lopez had a little bit of both; his stat line (24 points, 4/6 from deep) was a positive but he also struggled with fouls, limiting his playing time, and he was often pulled in favor of Marvin Williams, with uneven results.
For Miami, Jimmy Butler (40 points on 20 shots, 12/13 on FTs) earned his nickname by getting tough buckets all game long. Goran Dragic put early pressure on the Milwaukee defense, and finished with 27 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Bam Adebayo (12 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists) kept the Heat centered throughout the contest.
Stat That Stood Out: –18 points in the paint
There were a number of contenders for this spot, including the massive difference in made free throws (25 for Miami, 14 for Milwaukee), or the rebounding disparity (46 for the Heat, only 34 for the Bucks). However, the Bucks are the Bucks because of their ability to excel at the rim, and they did that on neither side tonight. Brook Lopez’s deterrence was ineffective, and Giannis simply couldn’t get through the Miami wall.
Considering Eric Bledsoe (hamstring) was a late scratch for this game, it’s easy to take a positive approach towards Game 2 (assuming he’s able to go on Wednesday). However, this opening game was the worst case scenario for Milwaukee: too many turnovers, no control of the boards, and an inability to play their game. Like with the first round series, Milwaukee has a lot of work they need to do in order to get back on track in the next one.