Despite the Heat making the Bucks sweat down the stretch, Milwaukee was able to prevail and secure a 122-114 victory.
Giannis would be cooking to begin this one, as he scored Milwaukee’s first ten points. However, he wouldn’t score any more the rest of the quarter. It took a little bit for Damian Lillard to get involved in the offense. He’d finish with five points. Going into the second, things were all locked up at 28-28.
The Bucks’ offense started to come alive in the second quarter. Things opened up more and they crafted together a double-digit advantage. It’d float around that area as things progressed, as Tyler Herro started making some nifty shots for Miami. As the half came to a close, a Jae Crowder three rounded things out, and Milwaukee carried a 62-52 lead into the locker room.
An 11-4 run sparked the start of the second half for the Bucks, immediately forcing Spoelstra to call a timeout. That lead would pad things for the majority of the quarter and made it tough for Miami to inflict much damage — especially as Damian Lillard started scoring late. Milwaukee’s offense would race out to a 97-73 lead headed into the fourth.
Miami wouldn’t make it easy in the fourth. They chiseled things down to single digits around the midway of the fourth, forcing the Bucks to call a timeout. It seemed oddly close to last year’s playoff games. However, this time around, Milwaukee was able to withstand the punches from the Heat and put a bow on a 122-114 victory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the Bucks, posting 33 points. Damian Lillard complimented him with 25 points of his own.
Tyler Herro contributed a game-high 33 points on 12-of-21 shooting.
Milwaukee now heads to Toronto where Adrian Griffin will face off against his former team this Wednesday night.
What Did We Learn?
We learned that the Heat are still their old selves. Despite this game seeming to be wrapped up late, the Heat never surrendered. It’s a tale as old as time. No matter the squad that Erik Spoelstra has, this is always the case. Postgame, Giannis gave them credit as always being prepared and playing hard. He mentioned how it’s not a secret. That’s just who they are. Despite the fact that things were close down the stretch, kudos to the Bucks for not bending and being able to slam the door shut.
Bobby Portis was big off the bench.
As the games continue to unfold, Bobby Portis production continues to increase. Last night, he put forth another solid outing, leading the bench with 16 points on a very effective 7-of-10 shooting. We also got the first rendition of “BOB-BY!” chants from the Fiserv Forum crowd as he walked towards the corner of the court smiling and waving his arms following a Miami timeout. That scenario never gets old, despite it having played out numerous times throughout the last few years. Postgame, I was curious to get Damian Lillard’s thoughts on his new teammate:
Bucks fans are no strangers to the energy that @BPortistime brings on a nightly basis. I asked Damian Lillard what it's like to have a teammate like that who can pump up a crowd in a moment's notice: pic.twitter.com/vgWy90cJi4— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) October 31, 2023
Adrian Griffin also gave BP some high praise when discussing what he brought to the table, calling him the people’s champ. It’s baffling just how consistent Portis is on a nightly basis.
Giannis got the challenge he wanted — and delivered.
Going back to last season’s playoffs, one of the pleas that Bucks fans were making centered around Mike Budenholzer electing to have Jrue Holiday serve as the primary defender on Jimmy Butler rather than Giannis. Last night, that wasn’t the case. Antetokounmpo got the challenge of defending Butler and delivered. The Heat star would shoot just 4-of-11 from the floor and score just 13 points on the evening. Granted, he sat out the entire fourth quarter after injuring his knee, but it was still clear that Giannis was frustrating him. Postgame, Giannis had a lot to say about being able to defend not just Butler, but superstars in general:
As Giannis himself noted, tonight was the first time he was the primary defender on Jimmy Butler in three years. The last time was in the first round of the 2021 playoffs.— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) October 31, 2023
"I believe I'm one of the best two-way players to ever play this game and I want to have that challenge." pic.twitter.com/9sxQYzOYKw
That’s the type of quote that sends chills down your spine. Great stuff from Giannis.
Cam Payne also made sound contributions.
Another new acquisition for this Milwaukee team was Cam Payne. He knocked down not one, not two, but several 3-pointers on the night, totaling 11 points off the pine. It stemmed from the efforts that Portis put forward and solidified the bench’s role in securing the victory. During the offseason, there was uncertainty about how the Bucks would approach the backup point guard role, but Payne has proven himself to be serviceable in that area. He’ll look to follow up his strong efforts with another productive outing Wednesday night in Canada.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- How about Jae Crowder? He pitched in with eight points, including a pair of threes. In 25 minutes, he was all over the floor, including some time spent defending Butler. So far, the Marquette product has shown his worth on this team.
- With MarJon Beauchamp sidelined with an illness, AJ Green stepped in to fill his shoes. He didn’t score a point in 15 minutes played and went 0-for-4 from the floor. His status for Wednesday night in Toronto remains to be seen.
- Despite Giannis missing some free throws late, he was able to seal it down the stretch from the stripe. That was definitely encouraging for Bucks to see.
- Milwaukee reached the 120-point mark for the first time this season, improving to 1-0 when doing so. The Bucks were 28-3 last season when scoring 120+ points.
- This was the Bucks’ first win of the season in the second game of a back-to-back. Last season, Milwaukee was tied with Boston for the best record in the NBA when playing on zero days rest (10-3).
- Khris Middleton played just 17 minutes and tallied five points. However, he did have five assists. In his postgame availability, Adrian Griffin mentioned how he’s the glue of this team. It’ll be very intriguing to see his minutes rack up as he continues to get acclimated to the on-court action.
- How about this ball movement?
- This is the most wild promotion I’ve ever seen:
bucks just announced an all time convoluted promotion— jack maloney (@jackmaloneycbs) October 31, 2023
if the bucks score 95 points before the end of the third quarter you can go to kwik trip and use your kwik trip rewards card to buy an 18, 24 or 30 pack of michelob ultra and you will receive 30 cents off each gallon of gas
I can’t believe this is actually real. As Jack and I were chatting about it, we had so many questions. How did they end up deciding on this promotion? What were the other ideas vetoed? Were Glazers going to be involved? I have so many questions.
- Last, here’s Giannis’ Halloween costume:
The Hulk — whoops, I mean Giannis Antetokounmpo — has arrived for his postgame availability pic.twitter.com/gUVUViNXZG— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) October 31, 2023
He literally kept the mask on the entire 11:24 that his media session lasted. What a goofball.