This game played out eerily similar to Miami's home loss at Indiana on Wednesday in that Miami had a reasonably effective first half that was marred by some sloppiness towards the end that would shorten the deficit and give the opposing team hope. While Miami's nine-point lead was whittled to one at the half vs Indiana, Milwaukee only shaved four points off of their 12-point deficit and Miami lead 46-38 at the half with the youth of Miami's roster Shabazz Napier and James Ennis having the best games of their nascent NBA careers, making up for a slow start from Chris Bosh.
Ennis scored all nine of his points in the first half while Shabazz netted eight of his 10 in the first half. Luol Deng also had all 10 of his points in the first 24 minutes.
Like Indiana, the third quarter would prove to be disastrous for Miami as they were outscored 26-13. Chris Bosh would continue to misfire, taking mostly makable midrange shots and the guards would badly struggle to set up any offense, stifled by Milwaukee's length and paint protection, led by the volatile, but underrated Larry Sanders, who didn't record a block, but altered many of Miami's paint shots.
Miami's offense came around in the 4th quarter thanks to Shawne Williams who had his 11 of his 13 points in the 4th (and recorded his first HEAT double-double with 11 rebounds), but by then the Bucks had built up a double digit lead and Miami was playing catch up. Miami would hit timely threes on multiple possessions, cutting the lead to four, but Brandon Knight would hit three consecutive 3-pointers off broken plays, effectively killing Miami's comeback bid. Knight would lead the Bucks with 20 points.
These are not home losses Miami can afford, even with Milwaukee a much improved team from last season. With 17 turnovers and nine of their 22 foul shots missed, Miami shot themselves in the foot multiple times in this game. Bosh was 2-17 for only 10 points, yes but you have to look at that as an aberration. Jump shots are sometimes a fickle beast even to the best in the world and to his credit, he did block a season high five shots and match a season high with five assists. Law of averages should dictate that his offense will come around, but he's shot 12-49 in his last three games.
Mario Chalmers would lead Miami with 18 points and five assists before fouling out, but his play was again uneven late and he's been asked to do far too much with the rest of the guards lagging behind. All three HEAT point guards committed three turnovers each and it continues to be frustrating seeing them struggle to set up the offense or even throw a proper entry pass.
I'll give out some additional praise to Zaza Pachulia, a longtime Heat nemesis who kept possessions alive on offense and used his body the same way Sanders did. The rotation of Sanders and Pachulia along with the ridiculous wingspans of 19-year-olds players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker gives Milwaukee a frontcourt that can keep up with any offense. That they practically formed a human chainlink fence vs. Miami's shorthanded offense shouldn't be that surprising.
It's sadly another loss Miami will have to put in their rearview mirror because they travel to face the 4-5 Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn tomorrow at 7:30. It's unknown if Wade or Josh McRoberts will be able to make their returns, but early signs point to that being doubtful. A more reasonable return may be on Thursday vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.