The Milwaukee Bucks are staring down an opportunity to close out the Miami Heat in Game Four, with two straight dominating blowouts behind them to put them up 3-0 in the series. A win tonight would undoubtedly be extra sweet for a franchise that spent the entire season trying to escape the shadow of last season’s playoff embarrassment.
Where We’re At
The Milwaukee Bucks have seemingly solved anything the Heat are trying to do offensively. The 113-84 victory was just the latest proof of that. By dropping Brook Lopez liberally against Bam Adebayo, the Heat star is entirely off his game. He’s hesitant and missing shots he hit with ease last season. Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler finally found some rhythm in Game Three with 17 points, but it was too little too late as the rest of his supporting cast no-showed, swallowed up by the Bucks defenders. Jrue Holiday shined offensively once again, pouring in 12 assists and 19 points on 7-10 shooting. Despite a rough night from Giannis Antetokounmpo in terms of his offensive rhythm, he mustered 17 points on 12 shots. The real question will be who will enter the starting lineup in Donte DiVincenzo’s absence after he was ruled out for the remainder of the Playoffs. My bet is on Bryn Forbes for this game.
Milwaukee’s defense has been the primary reason they’ve catapulted out to this lead. The melding of their zone drop with the switching on the perimeter has paid dividends in this series, and the Heat can’t find any space to operate with their usual flurry of DHO’s, screens and cuts. Spoelstra played his latest adjustment card by inserting Goran Dragic into the starting lineup last game, and he promptly played perhaps the worst game in recent memory against Milwaukee ending with eight points on 3-14 shooting. I’m not sure there is anywhere else for Spo to go at this point. His best solution in Game Three was tossing in Nemanja Bjelica. The only way I see the Heat making it competitive is an outrageous shooting performance and their stars returning to a star level.
Player to Watch
Brook Lopez continues to stymie Miami at the rim, but he was REALLY hunting the post-up mismatches in Game Three, occasionally to the detriment of the Bucks offensive flow. Miami was blitzing him with a second defender, and the added pressure seemed to throw him off his rhythm. There were a few different times where he had an easy outlet to a player for what would’ve been a layup. I’m glad he got to see this coverage so early, and we’ll see if Miami replicates it tonight and if he can adjust. His defense should remain as outstanding as it has to this point.
Game Four: Against Miami, the Bucks will...
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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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