Milwaukee Bucks sweep Miami Heat to advance in NBA playoffs; Giannis Antetokounmpo posts triple-double
MIAMI – All gas, no brake.
Depending what social circles you travel in, sports you follow or Internet wormholes you travel down it’s a phrase that’s been in the lexicon for years. Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur popularized it in Wisconsin in 2019 with an emphatic expletive worked in for flavor. Though no member of the Milwaukee Bucks quoted it verbatim over the last week against the Miami Heat, a version of it has been espoused in team huddles by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
The Bucks may have won Games 2 and 3 by an average of 31.5 points, but their two veteran stars were constantly reminding the team to not take the foot off the gas, to not let the Heat get comfortable – or let a raucous holiday-weekend crowd at American Airlines Arena truly get into the games.
But just because they’re on the South Beach doesn’t mean the gas was being pushed into a Maserati.
Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks during the third quarter of Game 4. (Photo: Sam Navarro, USA TODAY Sports)
Instead the Bucks rolled along in a Prius, economically working their way back from a slow start out of the gates and a 12-point first half deficit to sweep the Heat with a 120-103 victory Saturday afternoon.
Milwaukee never led in the first half but began the third quarter outscoring Miami 24-6 over the first 7 minutes, 12 seconds of the third quarter to flip a seven-point deficit to an 81-70 lead.
They did it by being patient throughout and never letting the Heat get too far out of sight, and gradually chased them down.
Perhaps no better example of the disciplined approach set was the play of Giannis Antetokounmpo. He didn’t make a shot in the first quarter and started the game 2 for 11, including several misses at rim. Yet he kept drawing a crowd and kept finding his teammates for their own shots. He rebounded and defended.
The shots – for him and his teammates – eventually began to fall, and he recorded a triple-double with 20 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds.
Khris Middleton played the same way. He was 0 for 1 after one quarter, 2 for 6 at the half but was 6 for 14 with 18 points after three quarters. He finished with 20 points and 11 rebobunds.
The Heat threw all they could to keep the Bucks at bay. They got their best games from Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, Trevor Ariza and Bam Adebayo. They defended and contested shots. They rebounded better than they had all series. Yet Jimmy Butler couldn’t get going offensively and the Heat could not sustain a hot shooting start from the three-point line.
Conversely, Bryn Forbes did catch fire for the Bucks and he scored 22 points on 7 of 14 shooting from beyond the three-point line. Bobby Portis added 13 points while P.J. Tucker pulled down eight rebounds, including several key offensive boards in the second half. Book Lopez led the Bucks with 25 points and had eight rebounds and two blocks.
It helped offset the slow offensive afternoon from Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Jrue Holiday (4 of 12 shooting, 11 points).
Milwaukee used that protracted run in the third quarter to take a 91-85 lead into the fourth, a margin they increased to 104-90 at the 8:33 mark thanks to a three-point play Lopez set up by consecutive offensive rebounds.
The Heat just couldn’t string together enough stops after that, and Antetokounmpo scored eight points down the stretch.
Butler finished with a triple-double of his own with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists but was only 4-for-15 from the floor.
Adebayo had 20 points and 14 rebounds while Nunn (18 points) and Herro (14) contributed off the bench. Ariza finished with 11 points – all scored in the first half.
Goran Dragić remained in the starting lineup for the Heat after taking over for Nunn in Game 3, and he scored 13 points.
The Heat opened the game with an aggressive mindset on both ends of the court and took a 64-57 lead into halftime.
Miami led by as many as 12 and never trailed in the opening 24 minutes of play, harassing Antetokounmpo and Middleton into a combined 3 of 13 shooting and 11 points. The Heat ran multiple defenders at the Bucks’ ball handlers as soon as they got into a half court set, and the Bucks turned it over eight times resulting in nine Heat points.
The Bucks shot 41.2% from the floor and 28.6% from beyond the three-point line while the Heat shot 52.2% and 43.8% from distance. The Bucks stayed in the game by scoring 15 points off eight offensive rebounds.
Forbes led the Bucks in scoring with 13 points on four, three-pointers and a free throw. Holiday had nine points and five assists. Connaughton had two points and began 0 for 3 from behind the three-point line. Adebayo finally got it going for the Heat, scoring 10 points and pulling in seven rebounds while Butler had 10 points, eight assists and five rebounds. Ariza hit three, threes to score 11 and Herro added 10 off the bench.
Miami used a 10-2 run in the heart of the first quarter to increase a 12-10 lead to 22-12, and they were able to maintain most of that advantage through to the end of the period until Portis hit the Bucks’ first three-pointer of the game with five seconds left to cut the deficit to 26-22. The Bucks had missed their first 10 threes to that point. Middleton was held scoreless on one shot and he and Antetokounmpo were 0 for 6 in the opening quarter.
The Bucks couldn’t get closer than four points in in the second quarter and the Heat pushed their lead to double digits on five separate occasions in the frame but could not totally break the line and get away from the Bucks. The Bucks ended the quarter with a 7-4 advantage to close to seven at the break – but Lopez and Antetokounmpo were each called for their third personal fouls in the final 98 seconds of game play.
The Bucks’ star trio of Antetokounmpo, Holiday and Middleton combined for 20 points and 12 assists but also five turnovers in the first half.
Pat Connaughton got the call to replace Donte DiVincenzo in the starting lineup for the Bucks. The veteran wing shot 52.9% from the floor and 53.3% from behind the three-point line along with averaging 8.7 points and 3.3 rebounds through the first three games. In 22 minutes, he pulled down five rebounds while scoring two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
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