Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
The Milwaukee Bucks may be the top seed in the Eastern Conference, however the Miami Heat are in full control of their second-round playoff series.
Miami took a commanding 2-0 lead with a sensational 116-114 success in Wednesday’s Game 2 at Walt Disney World Resort. The officiating played a starring role, as Goran Dragic was whistled for a doubtful nasty with the Heat nursing a three-point lead in the final seconds that sent out Khris Middleton to the line to shoot 3.
After Middleton made all 3, Jimmy Butler drew a nasty on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the last 2nd and struck 2 free tosses to win it.
While Butler made the winning complimentary throws, Dragic blazed a trail as one of 7 Miami players in double figures in a balanced effort, additional proving the Heat are an issue for the Bucks as the only Eastern Conference group to beat them twice in the routine season.
Noteworthy Player Statistics
- Goran Dragic, G, MIA: 23 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL
- Jimmy Butler, F, MIA: 13 PTS, 6 AST, 3 STL
- Bam Adebayo, F, MIA: 15 PTS, 9 REB
- Tyler Herro, G, MIA: 17 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST
- Jae Crowder, F, MIA: 16 PTS, 6 REB
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, MIL: 29 PTS, 14 REB
- Khris Middleton, F, MIL: 23 PTS, 8 AST, 6 REB
- Eric Bledsoe, G, MIL: 16 PTS, 7 REB
Supporting Cast Guidelines the Day for Miami
Butler was the story for the Heat in Game 1, and for great reason.
After all, he scored 13 points and made all 5 of his field-goal efforts in the last 4 minutes while outplaying the reigning MVP with the game on the line. He ended up with 40 points and showed unstoppable down the stretch with a mix of outdoors shooting, elbow jumpers and timely drives.
Nevertheless, Dragic ran much of the offense in the early going, and Wednesday was no different.
The point guard gathered 17 points in the first half alone as Miami’s only double-digit scorer by intermission. The Heat worked him into favorable matches by setting screens up leading, and he either linked from the outside when defenders didn’t press up or made use of angles in the lane to score himself or assist in for others when Milwaukee collapsed.
Dragic was far from the only supporting cast member who carried the Heat for stretches, as Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk all discovered their stroke from deep while Bam Adebayo scored at the rim and offered key rebounding.
Derrick Jones Jr. and Crowder played great defense for stretches by requiring turnovers, challenging shooters and blocking shots as Miami held off every Milwaukee spurt.
Still, it was Butler who made the winning play at the end after the Heat blew a six-point lead in the last minute. If the supporting cast continues to contribute in lots and Butler plays the function of superhero better, Miami can ride the formula all the method to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Mistakes Add Up for Bucks
There were some welcome signs for the Bucks even in defeat.
Eric Bledsoe lost no time making an effect after he missed Video game 1 with a hamstring injury. He led Milwaukee scorers with 14 points in the very first half and revealed a lot of burst assaulting the basket, which was a much-needed boost thinking about Giannis and Middleton handled nasty difficulty in the early going.
Brook Lopez likewise kept the Bucks within striking distance by pulling defenders away from the rim and connecting from deep numerous times even as the Heat controlled the early part of the game.
Antetokounmpo likewise recovered from a statistical point of view after he scored 18 points and missed out on eight free throws in the first game. He bullied his method to the rim a variety of times in spite of inconsistent playing time and being on the bench while tracking with six minutes staying.
However, the errors accumulated over the course of the game.
The Bucks finished with 14 turnovers and shot simply 7-of-25(28 percent) from three-point variety. That type of shooting is not going to win this series, particularly when the Heat form a wall around the rim to cut off Antetokounmpo’s penetration.
Milwaukee also didn’t rating between 5: 30 and 1: 45 in the fourth quarter, a stretch that showed extra expensive after the Bucks’ late charge fell just brief.
Game 3 of the series is Friday at 6: 30 p.m. ET.