In a not-technically-do-or-die-but-really-felt-like-do-or-die Game Four, the Milwaukee Bucks lived for 45 minutes...and then had the life snatched out of them by the Miami Heat, 119-114.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, finally returning to action after his fall in Game One, started the scoring off with a whirlwind of a spinning layup and he led the way to Milwaukee taking an early 15-5 lead, constricting the Heat’s space on defense and hammering inside on offense. Miami didn’t wilt from the pressure, as Jimmy Butler scored basically all of the baskets to keep the Heat within reach. The first quarter ended at 33-28...as Butler had 22 by himself. The game slowed down in the second period, but while the Heat kept hitting shots the Bucks began cooling off. They had open shots that weren’t falling, making it harder to buoy the scoring load in minutes where Giannis was sitting. The solution to that is for Giannis to simply sit less, and halftime commenced with Milwaukee leading 57-50.
The Bucks worked their way into three straight scoring possessions to start the second half, but Miami immediately took back the breathing room that had been built. From there, Milwaukee slowly built out a larger advantage, until the third quarter ended with a 12-point lead at 89-78, favoring the Bucks. The Bucks could never land a knockout blow; their lead vacillated between the high single-digits and the low double-digits, and the Heat grifted their way into a rock fight that eventually led to them taking a 102-101 lead with just over three minutes remaining. The end of the game involved a spectacular display of shot-making from Jimmy Butler, who continued to rain fire down upon the Bucks defense. Milwaukee could not keep their composure, and now the Bucks trail 3-1 in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Stat That Stood Out
There’s no way to quantify the impact of this loss. Milwaukee made innumerable unforgivable mistakes in the closing moments of the game to allow Miami to pull off the comeback at home. Jimmy Butler, by every definition of the word, willed his team to win, putting up 56 points on 28 shots.
Losing this game was nearly impossible, but they did it. This Game Four loss blows a massive hole in Milwaukee’s hull, and they are taking on water. Technically, they’re still alive in the playoffs. But from this point on they are facing elimination for every hour, minute, and second until they miraculously turn things around...or buckle under the pressure.
Which does it feel like to you?