This series is all tied. Despite being without Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks were able to clobber the Miami Heat, 138-122.
The energy to start this one was completely different for Milwaukee. Everyone was moving quicker and the ball was moving crisper, resulting in an early lead for the home team. The Heat wouldn’t let it get too out of hand, as Jimmy Butler made some monster moves to keep them in it. A Brook Lopez hook shot at the horn padded Milwaukee’s lead to 35-28 after one.
The second quarter would shift Milwaukee’s way in a massive way. The three ball really began to fall for them, something that didn’t occur in Game 1. With Giannis out, Pat Connaughton found himself back in the rotation and contributed in a major way, sinking several threes and making other impactful plays. His efforts helped the Bucks secure an 81-55 lead at intermission.
The Heat came out with a little bit of fire to begin the third quarter, but the Bucks were very quick to extinguish. The threes kept on falling, leaving little doubt that Miami would be able to mount a comeback. Joe Ingles would end the third with a step-back buzzer beater 3-pointer, because why not? Headed into the fourth, the Bucks owned a 118-85 lead.
Miami would mount a bit of a comeback in the fourth, but even that was nowhere close to what was necessary to get back into this one. The Bucks kept a huge amount of separation, establishing a path towards a 138-122 victory.
Brook Lopez served as the leading scorer for the Bucks, stacking up 25 points throughout the night. Jrue Holiday was a single point behind at 24 points. Pat Connaughton was absolutely massive off the bench with 22 of his own.
For Miami, Jimmy Butler served as the leading scorer with 25 points.
The series will now shift to Miami for Game 3 on Saturday.
Threes, threes, and more threes.
You can’t get more opposite scripts than what we saw from Game 1 to Game 2. After shooting insanely cold in the series opener, Milwaukee got back on track by scorching home 25 threes on the evening. How wild was this stat? Here you go:
- It tied the NBA playoff record for most made threes in a game (also done by Cleveland on May 4, 2016 vs. ATL).
- It was the fourth-most threes made in a game in Bucks history (reg. season or playoffs).
It’s insane that this happened on a night without Giannis. Sometimes, the game of basketball is wacky. Credit to the Bucks for finding the open shooter and taking advantage. After Game 1, you knew that the Heat likely wouldn’t shoot that well again, nor would the Bucks miss that many opportunities — and that’s exactly what happened. Looking at the box score, five players hit at least several or more threes. That’s the type of depth that’s needed in the playoffs. That’s the type of depth that’s needed when the franchise player goes down. It was incredible resiliency from the Bucks.
Pat Connaughton stepped up in the biggest of ways.
You’ll always hear NBA players say how they’re prepared for whenever their team needs them, but Pat Connaughton epitomized that perfectly last night. After a slew of bad games, he found himself on the outside looking in on the rotation. Following Giannis’ injury and absence, an opportunity opened up for him to insert himself back in — and boy, did he take advantage. In 25 minutes off the bench, he poured in 22 points — 18 of which came via the 3-point ball. His run in the second quarter is what provided the Bucks with a major amount of separation and was key enough for Bud to call him the difference maker in his postgame availability. As for Pat himself? Here’s what he had to say postgame:
Pat Connaughton with one heck of a quote on making contributions tonight after not seeing the floor in a while: pic.twitter.com/n69CoEeJk0— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) April 20, 2023
Connaughton has always had his fingerprints all over box scores throughout the playoffs and he kept that trend going last night. Should Giannis not be able to go on Saturday in Miami, expect Patty Fastball to continue to receive minutes — and rightfully so.
This team’s chemistry remains off the chart.
As the Bucks have gotten better and better throughout the last few years and in the seasons leading up to their championship run, the culture within the organization has really taken shape. Multiple players stressed that in their postgame interviews, starting with Brook Lopez:
Brook Lopez on going into a game knowing that they're without Giannis:— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) April 20, 2023
"The mentality it takes to be a Milwaukee Buck -- there's no one above anyone else. We're just out there trying to win. That's it." pic.twitter.com/T05ceMhYAX
What Brook said is so true. There’s literally no drama on this team. In today’s NBA, that can be a sight that’s rare to see. Everybody loves one another. They get along on the court and in the locker room too. After every game, they’re constantly cracking jokes with one another. It’s so fun to see. That’s the type of relationships between teammates that are necessary to win a championship.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Let’s talk about Joe Ingles. He was the subject of Pat Connaughton’s media availability:
Pat Connaughton on Joe Ingles saying that he was the one to first develop the catch high, keep high shooting method:— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) April 20, 2023
"Joe's like 45, so he probably did it before I did. I'm only 30. If he wants credit, the old man can have the credit."
He was also brought up by Khris Middleton:
Khris Middleton, on Joe Ingles:— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) April 20, 2023
"The slowest guy out there, probably the most unathletic guy out there, but he's a ball player."
Told Joe Ingles about this barb from Khris Middleton.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) April 20, 2023
Ingles: "Has he not watched his own film?" https://t.co/lnED9LDMZT
The banter between the Aussie and other Bucks players has been one of my favorite parts about covering the team this season.
- Right away, Brook Lopez got into the mix down low. It was clear that he was going to be a part of Milwaukee’s gameplan, and his skill set down low opened the door for other Bucks players to make contributions. We’ve seen it before in other postseason games (remember Game 5 agains Atlanta in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals? A game that also didn’t have Giannis). When he gets involved in the playoffs, the Bucks are very likely to win.
- Curious as to when the Bucks first learned when they’d be without Giannis?
Bobby Portis says they found out that Giannis was out just before the game. On if it changed the team's mindset:— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) April 20, 2023
"Nah, man. Shit, the mindset is to get a win. Shit, we needed a win in the worst way."
- Milwaukee’s 81 first-half points are a new franchise playoff high for the first half and is the second-highest scoring half in franchise playoff history overall (highest: 87, 2nd half, April 23, 1978 vs. DEN).
- Pre-game, Brook Lopez was honored with the NBA’s Community Assist award. Here’s what he told us postgame in the locker room about what that moment meant to him:
- The Bucks had just four turnovers in the first half. Turnovers were one of the reasons the Heat were able to steal Game 1. However, Milwaukee’s protection of the ball last night had massive dividends in them dictating control of the game. I asked Mike Budenholzer how he felt that helped them set the tone:
“Yeah, I mean, you know, anytime you’re getting shots...I think when you’re aggressive and you’re attacking, good things happen. Us taking care of the ball, us finding spacing, finding open guys...the guys played well together.”
- The Bucks were shooting so many 3-pointers that the free throw disparity was incredibly in favor of Miami — yet Milwaukee still won soundly. The Heat shot 23 free throws compared to the Bucks’ eight attempts.
- Jae Crowder left the game momentarily. However, he ended up returning to the court. His status will be something to keep an eye on moving forward, but given how he was able to get back out on the floor, he’ll likely be good to go on Saturday for Game 3.
- It’s officially playoff season in Milwaukee:
We have our first edition of "Drop It Like It's Hot" being blasted by @DJShawna after a Bobby Portis fastbreak slam, followed by BOBBY! BOBBY! BOBBY! chants from the crowd.— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) April 20, 2023
Playoff basketball atmosphere in Milwaukee is officially live and well.
- Last, we’re on the verge of getting the primary green court back after it’s been in the repair shop for the last few months: