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Milwaukee vs. Miami: Bucks Stave Off Elimination, 118-115

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Game 5 will be Tuesday night

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We will see you...Tuesday night. After a valiant performance from Khris Middleton, the Milwaukee Bucks thwarted off elimination and forced a Game 5 vs. the Miami Heat on Tuesday with a 118-115 victory Sunday evening.

This one would start out with a very aggressive Giannis Antetokounmpo. On every possession, he’d embark on a tear towards the rim, and in most cases, getting there or getting hacked on the way. The only downside to this approach was that he was the only Buck really creating any opportunities. This allowed Miami to keep control throughout the period. Milwaukee would also miss multiple shots from beyond the arc, making it even more difficult to keep up with the Heat.

The darkest timeline would continue in the second quarter. On a drive to the hoop, Antetokounmpo would roll his right ankle again, letting out a gruesome scream. The Bucks would immediately huddle around him. He’d shoot the free throws so he could potentially return later on, but was checked out for evaluation. Milwaukee would come back during this window of time, and would actually play well enough to re-take the lead. They’d carry a slight 50-48 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

It’d be announced at halftime that Giannis Antetokounmpo would miss the remainder of the game. However, Khris Middleton began to come to life in the third, which assisted the Bucks in keeping things close. His 20+ points in the period would help Milwaukee keep Miami’s lead to just two, 88-86, heading into the fourth.

The Bucks used a 12-0 run in the fourth to implement themselves back into the lead. However, the Heat showed their resilience once again, as Tyler Herro connected on a 3-pointer to provide Miami with a single point advantage. On the ensuing possession, Donte DiVincenzo was fouled on a baseline drive, granting him two free throws and an opportunity to take the lead. Unfortunately, he’d only split the pair, evening things up at 107 apiece. Goran Dragic would then miss a baseline 3-poitn attempt, and we’d head to an extra period of play.

There’d be endless shot trading down the stretch in the OT period, mainly between Tyler Herro and Khris Middleton. The two of them would go back-and-forth from the perimeter. However, a pair of free throws from K-Midd would ice things for the Bucks and help them earn their first victory of the season and a Game 5 on Tuesday night.

Khris Middleton’s 36 points was a game-high. He’d also tally eight rebounds and eight assists. Bam Adebayo was the scoring leader for Miami with 26 points of his own.

Three Observations

James. Khristian. Middleton.

When the Bucks needed Middleton the most, he stepped up. After Giannis Antetokounmpo exited with a right ankle sprain, it was a must for Middleton to up his performance, and that’s exactly what he did. Ignited by a 23 point third quarter, he continued to put Milwaukee in an excellent position to stave off a sweep, which is ultimately what they’d do. We saw examples of this throughout the season where Middleton stepped up to the occasion when Giannis was off the court, and it continued to shine last night. With everything on the line, he refused to roll over and hit shot after shot. If Antetokounmpo remains sidelined for Game 5, it’s imperative for Middleton to have another effort like this.

Miami continues to benefit from second chance opportunities.

I don’t know if there’s anything more frustrating from this series than the Heat getting a second opportunity to score. Like the other games, that was the case again last night. The long rebounds that bounced off the rim seemed to nearly always go Miami’s favor, and when they’re shooting the ball as well as they are, it’s double the trouble. Thankfully, the Bucks were able to muster enough energy to prevent elimination. However, if lightning is going to strike again for the Bucks and for a Game 6 to occur, Milwaukee will have to shore up their rebounding efforts and start turning things around in that category.

Eric Bledsoe had some questionable decisions.

At a few instances throughout the game, Eric Bledsoe took some questionable shot selections. The worst was this:

I mean, that’s just unnecessary. It’s not a high percentage shot, it disrupts the offensive flow, and gives the ball right back to Miami. It’s odd how everything can be traced back to Bledsoe’s playoff performance, but these shots just aren’t doing anything for the Bucks. Let’s hope that this type of play and shot selection aren’t seen Tuesday night. If it is, it will likely mean that the Bucks are in trouble.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Early on, only one player was doing damage for the Bucks — Giannis. After he left, others (led by Khris Middleton) did a great job of stepping up. However, if the Bucks want to force a Game 6, it’s going to have to be a team effort from opening tip.
  • Jae Crowder continues to be a force for the Heat. Whenever he puts up a shot, I automatically think that it’s going to fall. Last night, he’d take 12 field goal attempts (all 3PA) and convert on half of them. It’s been a big series for the Marquette product.
  • Bam Adebayo is another player that continues to cause trouble for the Bucks. His pest-like attitude and strength really develops problems, which is exemplified by his game-high 12 rebounds. He also contributed with 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting.
  • It’s time to stop playing Pat. Whenever he’s out on the floor, Milwaukee seems to lose a step and things tend to go south. In his 13 minutes of play, he’d register a -8 RPM.
  • Last, it was another game where Wes Matthews failed to get to 30 minutes. All in all, he’d finish with 25 minutes of action, which continues to be confusing for me. He’s obviously valuable to the Bucks with both his offense and defense, yet doesn’t get as much action as he probably should. It’ll be intriguing to see how he’s used on Tuesday.