After last night’s battering Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra knew he had to make some lineup changes, moving Meyers Leonard and Moe Harkless to the bench in favor of Andre Iguodala and Avery Bradley.
Immediately this change was felt, as the game felt much more level after the Milwaukee Bucks turned all of their shooting sliders down. In all seriousness, Bradley and Iguodala were a much better matchup against the Bucks and gave the Heat a good defensive guard to chase Holiday around early.
Spoelstra ended up going 10 deep with his rotation in the first quarter, giving Precious Achiuwa, Kelly Olynyk, Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn and Gabe Vincent some run. Achiuwa racked up two fouls which forced Harkless to switch in momentarily.
Nunn had some decent moments including a poster dunk on Bobby Portis but it was still curious to see him get run over a better matchup in KZ Okpala.
The second quarter was relatively even towards the beginning of the period but Miami wound up letting the game get slightly out of hand once Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer moved away from his lineups featuring Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Pat Connaughton.
Adebayo flashed some great moments towards the end of the half, getting by Giannis Antetokounmpo for a solid score. In fact, Bam began the quarter off an alley-oop dunk off an assist from Vincent, who himself hit his first 3-pointer of the game in this period.
After tying the game at 35, the Bucks dominated the rest of the quarter and went up by 10 points behind Jrue Holiday, Giannis and Donte DiVincenzo. Giannis wound up finishing the game with a triple double and dominated alongside Holiday and his bench in the quarter.
However, Dragic was able to help the Heat bring the game to within five points, scoring seven points in the closing minutes of the first half.
In the third quarter, it appeared as if the game was getting away from Miami, and that last night was no illusion. Milwaukee began the latter half of the game with a 16-7 run after a fairly back-and-forth first half.
However, Miami showed much more fight than in the game the previous night, battling back in the third to make it a game behind Dragic’s bench heroics and Adebayo’s big numbers. One thing that would cause Adebayo to go from All-Star to superstar would be increasing his reliability as a go-to scorer, something that he seemed to take notice of in this game.
After a big night in the first game of the back-to-back, Tyler Herro was back at it again, helping Miami get back into the game in the third quarter. At the end of the quarter, Herro already had a double double, registering 18 points and 10 rebounds. Herro scored five of those points in the last minute of the quarter including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Miami ended the quarter outscoring the Bucks 37-35, capitalizing on a 30-19 run after an early half timeout.
Miami was able to tie the game at 93 at the start of the fourth quarter once Dragic registered his 20th point of the game. The Adebayo-Olynyk-Dragic-Vincent-Bradley lineup was productive, taking the lead and extending it to seven points. Vincent played respectably coming off an injury, though he fouled often.
In the fourth quarter, Dragic went absolutely nuclear, hitting seemingly endless 3-pointers. Dragic continued to show that he is one of the most underrated players in Heat history and his quick recovery from plantar fasciitis is absurd.
In order to give Dragic some rest, Spoelstra replaced Vincent and Dragic with Duncan Robinson and Herro. Robinson immediately got fouled on a 3-point shot attempt, hitting all three free throws to give Miami a 10-point lead and a 25-6 run after Bradley nailed a 3-pointer following a Brook Lopez dunk.
After the first half, Holiday ended up struggling with hitting his shots and containing Miami’s guard play. Bradley scored five quick points in the quarter, bringing his total up to 16 points on nearly 60% shooting, a line he finished the game with.
Dragic was the hero of this game, almost singlehandedly bringing the Heat from the brink of defeat to a significant margin of victory. The Dragon finished with four 3-pointers, 26 points and five rebounds. Dragic hit three of his 3s in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.
To go along with Dragic, Adebayo had himself a game, coming close to a triple double and finishing with 22 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and two blocks. Surprisingly, Herro led the team in rebounding and finished with an impressive line of 21 points, 15 rebounds and four assists.
Meanwhile, Olynyk provided a great sparkplug off the bench to go along with Dragic and finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Miami battled admirably in the game from being down 14 in the third quarter in order to win the game by 11. If there was ever any doubt Miami belongs atop the Eastern Conference upper echelon, this game should help alleviate those doubts.
The Heat will be back in action against the Dallas Mavericks on New Years Day, with tipoff set for 7 p.m.