Miami seemed challenged vertically early with Milwaukee’s size and struggled to score, missing their first 7 shots. There were also challenges on the other end as they got torched by Khris Middleton multiple times ( he had 11 points in 5 minutes). Nunn picked it up for the Heat, answering back with multiple buckets. Bam also looked solid early, scoring 3 jump hooks back-to-back.
The Heat’s reserves were strong, scoring multiple looks from beyond the arc to keep the Heat in striking distance. Miami would go into the second quarter down only two.
Justise got it going in the second after being shaken up in the first ( Giannis landed on him). He did a good job commanding the floor and finding passing lanes, he also had a couple good looks of his own.
Dragic also unleashed some strong offense of his own as he feasted in the midrange and danced circles around the Bucks’ defense. For a stretch the Heat were going bucket for bucket with the Bucks.
The Heat really struggled to guard Milwaukee’s three point looks with Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, Brook Lopez and Middleton all working to increase the lead. Around the 3:30 mark the Bucks would go a 7-0 run.
The Bucks punished the Heat in transition after nearly every turnover, they have so many weapons that if you’re not playing close to perfect they’ll run up the score - and they did.
There were a few positives heading into the second half, but Dragic would foul Kyle Korver to end the half and give up a four point play which pretty much cemented the vibe of the first half. The Heat would go into the second half down 17.
Miami’s struggles to score the ball continued early into the third, it was Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn who would attempt to claw them out of the hole. This is where the Heat need Jimmy Butler, Miami shouldn’t have to rely on rookies for leadership in bad situations.
Still, the rookies getting reps against good talent and succeeding isn’t the worst strategy...and it worked.
Solid play from Nunn, Herro and Leonard would spark a 10-2 run allowing the Heat to get back into the game somewhat. Herro had nine points in the quarter at the 3:00 minute mark and thoroughly dominated after a shaky start. The Heat have something special with him. Nunn was fearless, scoring 12 points in the quarter and never slowing down. Where last season’s Heat team would have folded these guys worked hard to keep the Heat within striking distance.
Miami’s defense was a lot better in the third as well as they worked to eliminate the three and protected the key. The Heat would score some important buckets off the Bucks’ turnovers.
The Heat managed to get within eight as they opened the quarter with a Derrick Jones Jr and one. They followed that up with Dragic steal and Justise slam dunk. Duncan Robinson and Kelly Olynyk hit two back to back threes, and just like that the Heat were within three. The Heat wouldn’t let up with Dragic taking the reins and scoring on some beautiful moves, but neither would the Bucks as they unleashed Giannis.
One thing that stood out in this quarter was how well Goran and Justise are coexisting. Goran is still making plays and scoring well (he looks like a real SMOTY threat) and Justise is excelling in his playmaker role.
Miami’s hustle was the difference maker in this one, their willingness to go for offensive rebounds (props to Kelly Olynyk) and take risks allowed them to steal the lead at the 6:17 mark after trailing almost the entire game.
The Heat stopped the Bucks on some crucial possessions which led to two huge Kelly O threes allowing the Heat to go up five. There was a crazy sequence around the 4:00 minute mark that I still can’t explain, but Justise managed to score on it and increase the lead so it could have been worse. I really have to shout out Kelly Olynyk who was spectacular in the fourth, this was some of the best basketball I’ve seen him play over the last two seasons
The Bucks wouldn’t go quietly, with Giannis once again leading the charge and slamming home a put back to re-ignite the crowd. After cooking the Heat from beyond the arc in the first half, the Bucks could not buy a bucket from three in the second half (they only had three). The Bucks would go an 8-1 run to bring things within 2 with 26 seconds left in the game. In a twist of fate the Bucks would turn the ball over with 20 seconds remaining. The Bucks would foul Bam Adebayo at the 9.3 second mark, but he’d sink both. On the other end the Heat would give up a three point play to Giannis turning things into a one point game. Bam would go to free throw line once again with 3.3 seconds left where he’d go one for two. Robin Lopez would foul Justise on a loose ball foul sending him to the line too. He’d unfortunately miss both, leaving the door open for the Bucks to win the game with a three.
Khris Middleton airballed the winning three point attempt, but Giannis would force overtime by snatching the ball midair and scoring. It was crazy.
The Heat were slower to start overtime electing to play the Bucks at half-court instead of pushing the ball. At the 2:31 second mark, Giannis would manhandle Goran and foul out. The Bucks would continue to hack a Bam on the other end, but he’d deliver from the free throw line.
The Bucks were fouling like crazy, pushing players (well, just Goran) all over the place. This put the Heat in a great position. Miami swarmed the Bucks on the defensive end forcing turnovers. Miami struggled from the free throw line (well, just Goran) but they’d make enough to maintain the lead. A Kelly Olynyk foul in the 25 seconds would turn things into a one possession game once again. Goran would miss his free throws (again) and open things up to an Eric Bledsoe breakaway, but Bam would deliver a game saving chase down block. Unfortunately he’d also miss both free throws on the following possession. Middleton would get a clean look to send things to double OT, but he’d miss. Goran got fouled again, but he’d make both to ice the game.
This was a rollercoaster and free throws almost cost the Heat the game, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was impressive. Big win for the Heat. They’ll definitely be tired for tomorrow’s game in Minnesota.