Through the first three quarters of Game 3, the Milwaukee Bucks out-played the Miami Heat. Milwaukee, in fact, held a 12-point lead entering the final frame. But slowly, the Heat chipped away at the lead.
A Goran Dragic 3-pointer with 8:42 left pulled Miami to within 91-87. A couple minutes later, Jimmy Butler poked the ball away from Brook Lopez and darted into the front-court. Tyler Herro threw the ball his way, and Butler scored on the breakaway dunk. Miami was within 93-92.
One. Point. Game. pic.twitter.com/OcevQMrBRe— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 5, 2020
Butler and Bam Adebayo dunked on back-to-back Heat possessions, and Miami grabbed a three-point lead. With 3:27 left, Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo defended Butler. With the help of a screen, the five-time All-Star got to his spot and made a bank shot. He yelled out “he can’t guard me” as he ran back on defense.
Jimmy Butler scores on Giannis in clutch, looks right at the Bucks bench and says “He cant guard me.” pic.twitter.com/uruqgcvFdS— Jimmy Wobler (@WorldWideWob) September 5, 2020
And then came the dagger. With 2:15 left to go, Butler found a wide open Jae Crowder behind the arc. Crowder made the shot to put Miami up 107-100.
ICE COLD JA33333333.! pic.twitter.com/OwEbilfJke— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 5, 2020
The Heat crushed the Bucks in the fourth quarter 40-13. In the clutch, the Heat acted as the more desperate team, fighting for loose balls and rebounds. Miami held on to win Game 3 115-100 and take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Butler led Miami with 30 points on 7-of-13 from the field, including 2-of-5 from downtown. The Heat’s max player got to the foul line 19 times. He missed five of those shots, but Butler’s aggression was key to Miami staying in the game and then taking advantage in the final few minutes.
Aside from his scoring, the four-time All-Defensive Team guy collected seven rebounds, six assists and one steal. He was everywhere.
The Heat’s other All Star, Adebayo, added 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line. The third-year center also grabbed 16 boards and blocked two shots. He suffered some early foul trouble, but Adebayo controlled himself in the second half and played superb basketball on both ends of the ball.
Kelly Olynyk missed the game with his knee bruise, so that opened the door for Meyers Leonard to play as Adebayo’s backup. But Leonard missed both of his shot attempts and committed a weak foul on a Bucks layup that turned into a three-point play. Leonard looked unplayable out there; getting the more offensively skilled Olynyk back will be key for the Heat.
Crowder played a huge role in this victory. The Marquette forward knocked down five 3-pointers in the game, none bigger than the dagger with 2:15 left. He again defended Antetokounmpo with physicality and even picked up five assists. On a night Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro shot a combined 4-for-14 from 3, Crowder’s long-distance shots were huge.
The Heat actually connected on 18 3-pointers, but it was surprising who made some of them. Derrick Jones Jr. made two 3s in his six minutes of action. And Andre Iguodala, who was questionable to play Friday night, also knocked down two 3s.
Miami will try to close out the series Sunday at 3:30 p.m.