In a thriller of a game Saturday afternoon at Fiserv Forum, the Bucks were able to sneak out a 109-107 OT victory over the Miami Heat to take a 1-0 series lead.
Right off the bat, Duncan Robinson caught fire for Miami. In the first quarter, he’d ignite for the Heat’s first nine points. Milwaukee would look sloppy on their end of the floor, quickly turning the ball over several times. Despite their blunders (and 1-of-12 3-point shooting), the Bucks were able to keep things relatively tight after one. Going into the second quarter, they trailed the Heat by a pair of points, 24-22.
Poor offense continued for the Bucks in the second. A lack of any originality really prevented them from making much of a dent in Miami’s defense. However, the Bucks’ defense would really begin to start clicking about midway through the quarter. That’d allow them to snag their first lead of the afternoon, which grew to five points at one point. A Bobby Portis floater as the horn expired granted the Bucks a 53-50 halftime advantage.
The Bucks were able to keep their lead throughout the third quarter, despite some continued flashes from Duncan Robinson. He’d continue to connect with ease from deep. However, an aggressive Jrue Holiday came into existence during the the third quarter, which helped the Bucks carry their advantage into the final quarter of regulation. After three, Milwaukee led 80-78.
The final quarter would be as tight as you could imagine, with neither team really pulling ahead of one another. Down the stretch, Giannis would see multiple trips to the free throw line. Unfortunately for the Bucks, he was unable to take full advantage, as he split on a few trips and even was called for a ten-second violation on one attempt. A Jimmy Butler layup as time expired then sent this one into overtime at 99 apiece.
The Bucks would have their opportunities in the overtime period as well. Open looks as well as a flagrant-1 would give them chances to open things up, but they could never take full advantage. A Goran Dragic 3-pointer from the corner would knot things up at 107-107 with 20.6 seconds left. That would set the stage for James Khristian Middleton, who let his talent do the talking. He’d connect on a shot from inside the right wing that captured a 109-107 win for Milwaukee, as Jimmy Butler’s shot would be rejected in the final 0.5 seconds.
The man himself Khris Middleton would lead all scorers in this one with 27 points, including two no bigger than the one he hit with 0.5 seconds remaining on the clock. Just a massive performance from K-Midd. Giannis Antetokounmpo would be a point behind him, finishing with 26 points on his outing.
For Miami, Goran Dragic led the team with 25 points. Duncan Robinson also had an influential performance, totaling 24 points on 7-of-13 shooting. All seven of those shots came from beyond the 3-point line.
What Did We Learn?
I’m going to go with Jrue Holiday for this one. After the acquisition was made for him back in November, Bucks fans couldn’t wait for his first playoff game with the team and today, that moment finally came. After a bit of a shaky offensive start, the third quarter is where he really began to shine. The level of aggressiveness that he exhibited really served as the fire starter for the Bucks as they began to wake up. When it was all said and done, Holiday would finish with 20 points on the afternoon, going 9-of-18 from the floor. Late in overtime, he’d corral a lose ball and go the length of the court and beat two Heat players for the lay-in on the other end. It’s going to be fun to see what he can bring in the remaining games during the playoffs.
Khris Middleton continues to be clutch.
Some things in life never change, and today, the thing that didn’t appear to change was Khris Middleton in high leverage situations. Late in overtime, Mike Budenholzer opted not to call a timeout as the Bucks came up the floor with the potential final possession. In his postgame availability, Middleton mentioned how much he enjoys having the faith of his coach to be trusted in that type of situation — and it paid off. With a hand from Duncan Robinson in his face, he was able to get all net on the game-winner for Milwaukee. We’ve seen it so many times before (anybody remember the wild buzzer-beater he hit against the Heat back in 2015?), and today was just the newest chapter in that story.
Milwaukee had a horrendous outing from the 3-point line.
From the opening tip, it appeared that it could be a rough afternoon for the Bucks from deep. Ultimately, that’s what ended up being the case. Milwaukee would go just 5-of-31 (a 16.1 percentage) from the 3-point line, which was their lowest shooting percentage in the Bud era since they shot 17.1% against Orlando in early 2019. This season, their lowest shooting percentage was 18.1% in the loss to New York. Obviously, the Bucks shouldn’t shoot that poorly in another game during this series (at least they’d hope not to). However, it was definitely a stand-out from today’s outing.
Free throw shooting also plagued Milwaukee.
We can talk about Giannis, but as a collective team, the Bucks really struggled from the charity stripe. They’d end up tallying 13 misses on the afternoon, going just 20-of-33 from the line — a 60.6 percentage. For Bucks fans, that’s extremely frustrating and you can only imagine how frustrating it is for the Bucks themselves. On the other side of the coin, the Heat missed just four attempts, going 15-of-19 in the game. It’s clear that had the Bucks made just a few more, they would have one pretty comfortably. Look for them to improve that percentage on Monday night during Game 2.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Early in the game, the Bucks were dropping on Duncan Robinson, and he made them pay. He’d torch the Bucks for the Heat’s first nine points, and continued to be a threat for the remainder of the game. I don’t think an opposing player has gotten that hot in Fiserv Forum since Fred VanVleet in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals. You just know that Robinson will continue to be troublesome for the Bucks moving forward.
- This was a big game from Brook Lopez. Not only did he finish with 18 points on the afternoon, he’d also be massive on the defensive end, as numerous times, he was matched up with the versatile Bam Adebayo. The fact that he also went 7-of-8 from the free throw line was also thoroughly appreciated by the Bucks.
- Giannis would end up going 6-of-13 from the free throw line. Down the stretch, he was unable to connect 100% on his trips, as he had numerous splits. Moving forward, he’ll look to improve that part of his stat line.
- On that Giannis ten-second violation call, Bud said that it was a tough call for just a minute left in the game, but they had to move on from it. Here’s the footage:
- I still don’t understand Heat jerseys. Like, what the heck? I honestly thought the Bucks were playing the Pacers for a few seconds.
- It was a bit interesting to see PJ Tucker not used as much down the stretch, but rather Donte DiVincenzo — especially given the fact that the Bucks made the move to acquire Tucker near the free throw line. Though he did have ten rebounds, it was a bit of a frustrating night for Donte DiVincenzo, who finished with just several points on a lone 3-pointer.
- I typically try and avoid criticizing officials, but there were definitely some questionable calls in this game. Here’s one:
Foul on Middleton. What is happening on this game?! pic.twitter.com/KfEzzKCOqi— Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) May 22, 2021
- This was a wacky play:
- Last, what an iconic shot: