What a difference a Milwaukee Bucks win over the Miami Heat makes. Personally, I found my weekend mood significantly enhanced after that “W” and felt far more content gorging on the bunches of basketball contests the rest of Saturday and Sunday. Now, it’s time to turn to game two.
Where We’re At
As we discussed on the latest Brew Hoop podcast, both fanbases can semi-credibly point to game one as an outlier in some respect, ginning up reasons for why their team should be able to bounce back. For Milwaukee, it’s obviously the 5-31 3-point performance. The incredulity of a win in those circumstances only grew as the stat tweets continued in the aftermath.
The Bucks shot 5/31 (16.1%) from 3, their worst mark in any game, regular season or Playoffs, since January 14 2018, when they shot 4/28 (14.3%) against the Miami Heat.— Dean Maniatt (@AllTheBucks) May 22, 2021
They still won the game.
NBA teams were 73-1 all-time when outscoring an opponent by at least 45 points from the 3-point line.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) May 22, 2021
Heat outscored Bucks 60-15 from deep. And lost.
Other loss: Heat were outscored 54-6 from deep by the Knicks in January 2012, but beat New York 99-89 that night.
Heat fans will obviously point to the 8-37 performance by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo and say, “Well, our stars won’t shoot that poorly again.” That’s true. Milwaukee’s 2-point defense was unbelievable in game one, a vintage “walling off the paint” game that also forced Butler and Adebayo into difficult contested midrangers. On the other hand, while the Bucks took difficult triples, they also had a decent number of open looks that should go down when the math reverses in their favor. I’ll take that particular side of the ledger.
Still, Miami will undoubtedly be looking to try and create some more consistent offense for its two stars. Bam will probably be more aggressive with his shot from midrange, where he looked incredibly hesitant, while Butler needs to clean up the turnovers and will put Giannis Antetokounmpo through endless screens.
On the other end, Giannis will flat out hope to play a better game offensively. Khris Middleton was the most consistent threat for the Bucks, but even then, scoring 27 on 22 shot attempts isn’t very Khris-like. Antetokounmpo struggled with the extra help, and while he went 10-13 inside the restricted area, he went 0-13 outside of it. He needs a few of those midrange shots to fall, but more importantly, he needs to show a bit more patience. He can take Ariza on the block any time he wants, and if the Heat throw help when he tries to rip through and drive or go to a push shot, he needs to make the right read in anticipation of the help coming over. Too often he got mired in the muck and wound up getting stripped. Of course, his teammates will need to pay it off with triples too. I expect a more patient performance from him. I can’t wait.
Thanasis is out for Milwaukee; Victor Oladipo is out for the Heat.
Player to Watch
As frustrating as it was to watch Lopez drop so deep as Duncan Robinson rifled off open triples to start the game, he played a pivotal role in the Heat’s frustration inside as the game wore on. He sagged liberally off Adebayo and defended everything in sight at the rim. Bud seems content to roll with his big man for plenty of these games rather than downsize, and the Bucks also found ways to utilize him as a roll man and squeak out some scoring from him. I think there are even more ways he can exploit some of the Heat’s propensity to switch, and I’ll be watching to see if he can maintain the same level of defensive impact in this tilt.
Game Two: Against Miami, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)
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P.S. For our eagle-eyed commenters, yes, I did completely botch the publish time of game one’s thread and subsequently deleted it. There WILL be a game two thread published 20 minutes before tipoff tonight.