The Miami Heat could not take advantage of the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, but ultimately he wasn’t needed on a night the Milwaukee Bucks raced out to an early lead and never trailed on their way to a big 124-102 win.
Despite a solid victory against the Indiana Pacers on Friday, it was always going to be a difficult proposition on the second night of a back-to-back on the road without their two best players. But with news that Antetokounmpo would miss out on the game due to calf soreness, and the unforgettable season opener against the Bucks that resulted in a 42-point rout still fresh in fans’ minds, one would expect this game to be a lot more competitive than it turned out to be.
The first sign it was going to be a long night was when the Heat didn’t score until four minutes into the game and were down by double-digits with three minutes left in the first quarter. The 69 points they gave up in the first half was a season-high for a Heat opponent and there was no chance by the third quarter they would have the firepower to make up the big deficit with Lowry and Robinson again having quiet games and Herro not a difference maker.
The starters contributed very little, with P.J. Tucker and Dewayne Dedmon combining for four field goals, while Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson each had four field goals. Herro did contribute nine rebounds and six assists, while Lowry had seven assists and Dedmon grabbed 13 rebounds.
Just about the only bright spot for the Heat was the play of reserves Max Strus, who went 6-9 from long range and scored a team-high 25 points in 24 minutes, and Caleb Martin with 16 points and his usual hustle and defense.
Milwaukee punished the Bam-less defense with 48 points in the paint and out rebounded them 57-39. They used a team-oriented approach without Giannis to great effect, with four of their starters combining for 80 of Milwaukee’s 124 total points. They even got a nice boost from newcomer DeMarcus Cousins, who totaled a quick 11 points and five rebounds in 11 minutes.
The Heat’s road record drops to 8-7 as they get set for a three-game homestand featuring the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday and then the Bucks on Wednesday before wrapping it up against the Chicago Bulls next Saturday.