The Heat didn’t give the fans anything to cheer about.
The fans started a “Let’s Go Heat!” chant before tip-off, but Miami only scored eight points in the first nine minutes of the game. Miami had just four 3-pointers by halftime, and two of them came from Jimmy Butler, who doesn’t shoot 3s. And Bam Adebayo continued his struggles, missing numerous open looks. He didn’t take his first trip to the foul line until the third quarter.
Despite the horrendous shooting, the Heat were only down 13 points at the half, 49-36. Milwaukee didn’t shoot well from 3-point range early, either, preventing the game from being a blowout.
And then the third quarter happened. Miami’s shooting struggles continued, while the Bucks started hitting 3-pointers. P.J, Tucker and Khris Middleton hit back-to-back 3s to put the Bucks up 72-52.
The Heat were spent. Although Erik Spoelstra threw Nemanja Bjelica into the game for the second half and he hit a few 3-pointers, it was too little, too late.
Several factors coalesced to turn this game into more of a repeat of Game 2 than we may have expected. Duncan Robinson, who made seven 3-pointers in Game 1, didn’t hit a shot from long distance tonight. Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn also failed to hit a single 3. Tyler Herro was just 1-for-5 from distance. Not exactly a winning formula.
Butler and Adebayo didn’t play at their All-Star level Thursday night. While Butler made some early mid-range jumpers — at times, appearing like the only semi-bright spot of the Heat offense — he only made four trips to the foul line. Yes, the referees could’ve called a couple of fouls on his drives to the basket, but Butler should’ve been more aggressive.
And though Adebayo finished the night shooting 7-of-14 on the night, he only had 12 points by the time the game was out of reach. It was nice to see Adebayo dunk on Bobby Portis late in the third, but that made it a 24-point game. The way he looked — not looking at the basket — was a bit reminiscent of LeBron James’ mental collapse in the 2011 Finals.
Heat fans will think back to the team’s refusal to include Tyler Herro in a trade for Kyle Lowry at the deadline, especially after Herro has struggled mightily in the playoffs. Of course, Victor Oladipo — who was at the end of the bench for Miami, on crutches — would have made a difference if healthy.
But this team needs another shake-up. It’s been a shaky season all year long — Miami finished the year with a barely positive net rating. Now, the question is only if the Heat win Game 4 and avoid a sweep.