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Milwaukee vs. Miami: Bucks Obliterate Heat, 124-102

Giannis-less Bucks get big games from Connaughton, Middleton, and Portis

NBA: Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that they played without Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks had no problems in finishing off the Miami Heat. They’d walk out of Fiserv Forum with an impressive 124-102 victory.

It was a cool start for both teams to this one, with nobody being able to hit a basket out of the gates. However, Milwaukee would eventually get going — with some odd-looking lineups. Despite that, they were able to expand things to double-digits late in the quarter. At the end of one, the Bucks earned a 34-23 lead.

Milwaukee would continue the momentum they generated late in the first throughout the second quarter. In fact, their lead would nearly balloon up to 20 points at some points. Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton were the leading forces for the Bucks in the first half, totaling 31 points between the two of them. At halftime, Milwaukee had control with a 69-52 lead.

That double-digit lead would continue to expand throughout the third — and fast. Led by the passion from Bobby Portis, Milwaukee kept pouring it on the Heat. Khris Middleton would also start heating up from deep, making the task even more difficult for Miami. Going into the fourth, the Bucks owned a 105-76 lead.

From that point on, it was pretty much all done and dusted. The starters were benched and it was just smooth sailing to the finish line. When the final whistle was blown, the Bucks waltzed home with a 124-102 victory.

Pat Connaughton would be the leading scorer for Milwaukee in this one, finishing with 23 points. Khris Middleton was next in line, finishing a point behind at 22 on the night. Bobby Portis fueled himself by etching out a 19 point performance and Jrue Holiday chipped in with 16 points.

Max Strus finished as the leading scorer for Miami, as he came off the bench with an electrifying 25 points, including six threes.

What Did We Learn?

Bobby Portis’ energy never runs out.

I mean, does it? When was the last time he played without the sheer determination and grit that identifies him so well? He certainly exhibited that last night. He’d end up finishing with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Those 16 rebounds would match a career-high. That also marked his eighth double-double on the season. Last year, he had 12 double-doubles. There was also a moment in the game where he was fouled hard by Tyler Herro on a fast-break and still somehow converted the basket. That resulted in him getting up in an angry mood and “laughing” it off. It reminded me of when he laughed at Chris Paul in the Finals last year. I feel like I’m a broken record when I talk about him in every piece I write, but he’s been so valuable for Milwaukee this season.

Three Observations

DeMarcus Cousins is really starting to gel.

Sure, it’s only his second game, but based off of what we’ve seen so far, it appears that he’s fitting quite nicely into the system. In 11:27 of game action last night, Cousins posted a +13 RPM and 11 points. Despite him lacking the speed and movement he had more of early on his career, he’s showing that he can still have a major impact on the game — particularly with passing. It always seems as if he’s making the right passes and keeping the offense afloat and moving forward — and it was just his second game. Bucks fans should be thrilled with how he’s played so far.

Pat Connaughton continues to shoot the ball incredibly well.

Coming into last night, Pat Connaughton was shooting a career-high 41 percent from beyond the perimeter. Those numbers would improve following the game, as he hit on seven threes. That tied a career-high that he set not too long ago — just last month against the New York Knicks. Connaughton’s shooting has gotten to the point where when he shoots it, you almost expect the ball to go in. There’s no denying that he’s in one of the best grooves of his career, as his team-high 23 points exhibited last night.

The rebounding was off the charts for Milwaukee.

I mentioned how Bobby tied his career-high in rebounds with 17, but it wasn’t just him who exemplified that. The entirety of the Bucks roster did. They’d finish with 19 offensive rebounds, which gave them 26 second-chance points. I don’t care if this is a Bucks team without Giannis playing. If you give them that many opportunities to score again on you, they’re going to take advantage, and that’s exactly what they did last night in their decisive victory.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Jrue Holiday came out firing on all cylinders. In fact, he scored all 16 points in the first half and rattled off a good amount of those in what seemed like the blink of an eye. It’s always great when you see Jrue come out and score in bunches like that, especially with how he’s struggled sometimes on the offensive end this season.
  • In a decision that nobody really saw coming, Sandro Mamukelashvili received the first start of his NBA career. In just over 21 minutes of action, Sandro scored five points on 2-of-6 shooting. He also tallied seven rebounds.
  • Not only was Jim Paschke in the arena to give PJ Tucker his ring, but he also had a special moment for himself:
  • Prior to the game, PJ Tucker was given his ring. He also spoke to the crowd. Here’s that video:
  • Wesley Matthews made his Bucks debut (well, for this season at least). He’d come off the bench and register 12 minutes on the evening. He’d go 1-of-3 from deep, but you already know he let the arrow fly on that one make from beyond the perimeter.
  • Khris Middleton also had nine assists in addition to his 22 points. In his postgame presser, he attributed it to filling out the passing lanes for his teammates. Also, how about that frozen rope he threw from underneath the basket?
  • The Bucks also outmuscled Miami in the paint. Milwaukee scored 48 compared to the Heat’s 26.
  • Miami threw a lot of defensive looks at the Bucks, especially zone. Khris Middleton attributed Milwaukee’s success to how they attacked the gaps and felt that they’ve always been able to attack zone well — not just last night, but in other games as well.
  • What was the atmosphere like within Fiserv Forum as the Bucks obliterated the Miami Heat? Well, here’s a glimpse: