The Milwaukee Bucks took care of business against the Miami Heat, sweeping them with a commanding second half that led to a 120-103 win, closing out the series. Despite a 1-10 from deep to start this game, MIlwaukee trailed just 22-26 after the first period. The shooting improved somewhat in the second, but Miami found an offensive groove for the first time this series and led 64-57 at halftime. Milwaukee finally found a way to nail some shots in the third as they put it on Miami in the period, entering the fourth up 91-85. The Bucks dominated Miami down the stretch and gave garbage time minutes in a closeout game.
Now, they await the winner of the Boston-Brooklyn series.
Giannis had just the third triple-double in Bucks Playoff history today. He struggled mightily finding any sort of offensive rhythm around the rim in the first half, but he was able to command the paint using off-ball cuts and abusing mismatches late. What was the real story was how often his defensive presence disrupted any Miami driver to the rim and forced them into difficult decisions. Late in the fourth, he approached Dragic’s drive and made him turn it over. His defensive impact was more profound in this series than most that I can remember in the past. He had 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists.
Khris Middleton came alive in the third quarter. With a series of triples and finding his way to the free throw line, Middleton found his offensive flow and brought pace to the Bucks offense too. He brought some much-needed points in the early going with his assertiveness on pull-up jumpers, but it was his aggressiveness driving to the rim that also helped the Bucks find some offensive flow. It came at a pivotal time too as the Heat started to struggle to hit the shots that fell in the first half. Keeping his composure against Dragic’s absolute BS hook and pull down in the fourth period was much appreciated as well. He ended with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Miami finally got the Bam-Butler two-man game going. But it didn’t matter. The second period was the first time the Bucks weren’t able to disrupt Miami’s two stars on the offensive end. They screened and re-screened repeatedly and got some passing flow going as they hit midrangers and lobs. That gave them some more consistent offense and opened up a few different opportunities for the role players. Some of the deficiencies came from Giannis and Portis trying to navigate it themselves, but the Heat were also hitting their midrangers over Lopez far better than up to this point. When those shots started to fall apart in the third, the Bucks forced Miami to rely on role players. By the second half, that type of offensive approach started failing the Heat with Milwaukee getting into its groove with the big three. It was too little too late for Miami.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Pat Connaughton got the call to replace Donte DiVincenzo in the starting lineup. Bryn Forbes came in around the 7:00 mark to replace Jrue Holiday as the first sub.
- Brook Lopez led all Bucks scorers with 25 points on 11-15 shooting. Oh yah, he also didn’t attempt a 3-pointer.
- We knew Bobby Portis would add some scoring punch to the team this year, but he’s done a ddecent job at times this series reading the defense and finding an outlet pass when the Heat pressure him. He had a great dive into the paint and dish to Forbes in the first period, even if Forbes didn’t pay it off.
- You don’t get a lot of PJ Tucker in the dunker spot, but we got two different finishes for him in the first, one off an offensive rebound the other on a dish from Giannis.
- Jeff Teague got first quarter minutes in this one. He looked pretty out of rhythm from the rest of the team offensively, but did help create a solid look late in the first, hit a triple and fought around a pick for a contest on Herro. He ended at just five minutes overall.
- Bryn Forbes met Jimmy Butler at hte apex of the rim in the second quarter...and came away the victor.
- Bud started Holiday on Butler defensively to start the second half, likely due to Giannis having three fouls. That put Connaughton on Dragic, which obviously wasn’t ideal. Thankfully, the Heat couldn’t find a way to exploit that matchup in the early stages of that period.
- Major credit to Mike Budenholzer for utilizing his talent to roundly surpass anything Spo had to throw at him. Keeping two of his best players on the court at almost all times was a massive improvement over last season, and he wasn’t messing around with the minute load. He kept his best players in until just a minute left, even though the game was out of hand. He went in with a lot of questions, and still has plenty of questions, but it was nice to see him emerge with what should be a bit of good pub after this thumping.