A poor shooting first for both teams led to a low-scoring affair from the outset, with Milwaukee managing a 23-14 lead after one following a late AJ Green triple. The Bucks kept laying it on thick from deep to start the second quarter, but Miami finally found its shot and alongside mixing up their defenses to confuse Milwaukee led to a 45-all game at halftime. Miami certainly fired up the crowd in the third with some clutch dunks and buckets, but to their credit Milwaukee kept it close and trailed just 78-73 heading to the fourth. Miami just had too many easy shots to close it out late despite some garbage time jumpers from Milwaukee’s bench squad. Prep for a South Beach Saturday noon tipoff starts now.
The bench scored the same amount as the starters - 51. Despite steady offensive play from the likes of Brook Lopez (2-12 tonight) and Bobby Portis all season long, they just didn’t have it in this game. Holiday was the lone starter to really show out with 24 points. It’s a testament to the likes of Jevon Carter (18 points), Jordan Nwora (16) and AJ Green (15) for trying their best to fill in while the regulars rested. Pat Connaughton’s 3-point stroke continues to elude him, as he went 2-8 and is at 31% on the season.
Milwaukee couldn’t score inside. There was plenty of hot shooting from beyond the arc to start, but when that well dried up, much of the scoring went with it. It’s no surprise with the absence of Giannis in this game, as well as the Heat’s reliance on a zone defense, but Miami took the Bucks to task on the other end to make up for icy cold shooting in the first half. In fact, Cleaning The Glass credited Milwaukee with merely two shots at the rim. I genuinely can’t remember a number that small in any Bucks game, and it didn’t help they missed short midrange shots either at a clip of 8-21.
Offensive rebounds contributed to the doom. It was a bit surprising given Milwaukee still had Brook Lopez out on the floor, but the Heat absolutely decimated the Bucks on the offensive glass with a 35.8 OREB%. The interesting thing about that development was that Miami is rated just 20th in the league in that category coming into tonight. It was a huge part of the Heat’s scoring output tonight given they actually had a worse eFG% than the Bucks on the night.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- When Holiday left the floor midway through the second, Beauchamp got the defensive assignment on Butler for a possession or two after tackling Gabe Vincent to start. Bud certainly hasn’t shied away from having him guard both up and down a few positions in the season.
- Carter continued his shooting stroke bouncing back hitting two corner triples in the first period alone. He was on one on both ends, pulling up with confidence from deep and making Gabe Vincent’s life hell as a ball handler.
- On a shorthanded night, here was tonight’s sacrificial lamb backup brigade: Carter-Green-Nwora-Mamu-Portis. Credit to them though, they actually extended Milwaukee’s lead to close out the first period.
- It’s time for me to admit defeat on AJ Green. He still has his fair share of problems, but he’s given the team a 3-point shot in the arm when they needed it this year. I ask the commenters, where does Green rank among all the two-way players Milwaukee has had over the years?
- MarJon Beauchamp definitely looked like a rookie on a SEGABABA in this game. Even his usual energy running the floor seemed shifted down a gear. When he was driving into the lane, he wasn’t as strong with the ball as he’s been in recent weeks. A good learning opportunity for the rook who had zero points and didn’t impact the game positively really at any point.
- Just when it seemed like the Heat might finally be creating some separation from Milwaukee, Jordan Nwora managed to knock down two straight triples from beyond the arc to keep the Bucks within shouting distance. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that subsequently Max Strus roasted Nwora on a cut to the rim for an and-one, but Nwora answered on the other end and was one of the lone offensive bright spots in the second half.