After once facing a 12-point first-half deficit, a second-half surge from the Milwaukee Bucks propelled their 120-103 victory over the Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Playoffs Saturday in Miami, Fla. Milwaukee outscored the Heat 63-39 in the second half.
The Heat led 64-57 at halftime. The Bucks opened the second-half with a 24-6 run in the first 7:15; the Heat went rather cold, missing 11 of their first 14 second-half attempts. They never cut the deficit below five for the remainder of the contest.
Entering these playoffs, Miami’s worst point-differential in losses came in the 2014 NBA Finals (minus-72). It blew through that threshold in this lopsided series, finishing a minus-82 in its four losses.
Miami shot 44.0 percent, including 33.3 percent from 3-point line and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line. It had six double-digit scorers.
Bam Adebayo recorded his first double-double this postseason and the 12th of his playoff career. He had team highs in points (20) and rebounds (14). Kendrick Nunn added 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Tyler Herro had 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting, while Goran Dragic had 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting.
Star guard Jimmy Butler finishes a disappointing postseason with 12 points on a dismal 4-of-15 shooting, but added 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his third career playoff triple-double. Ariza added 11 points — all in the first quarter — on 4-of-8 shooting.
Milwaukee shot 46.5 percent, including 53.2 percent in the second half. It also shot 31.0 percent from deep and 83.3 percent from the charity stripe.
Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied his first playoff career triple-double, finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists. It was the third triple-double in Bucks playoff history. Brook Lopez recorded a team-high 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting with eight rebounds. Bryn Forbes continued his red-hot shooting, netting a playoff career-high seven 3s (on 14 attempts) and finished with 22 points. Khris Middleton recorded his first career playoff double-double, tallying 20 points with 11 rebounds on 7-of-16 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Bobby Portis had 13 points in 19 minutes off the bench. Jrue Holiday tallied 11 points, but shot just 4-of-12 from the floor. The 6-foot-4 guard added six rebounds, nine assists and four steals. Middleton (17), Antetokounmpo (15) and Middleton (14) combined for 46 points on a 63.3 shooting in the second-half.
With Donte DiVincenzo missing the rest of the playoffs due to a torn ligament in his left ankle, Pat Connaughton made his first career playoff start Saturday.
No Heat player had more than 10 second-half points — with Adebayo and Nunn totaling 10 apiece. Similarly to the previous three contests, Miami had zero answer on the boards. Milwaukee finished a plus-16 on the glass and an astounding plus-67 for the series.
The Heat stuck with their same starting lineup used in Game 3: Dragic, Butler, Adebayo, Robinson and Ariza.
Robinson’s first made triple since Game 2 put Miami ahead 7-4 — its first lead since its short-lived, 17-second 2-0 advantage it possessed in Game 3.
Back-to-back triples from Ariza gave the Heat a 18-12 lead with 4:07 left in the first quarter. Herro’s elbow jumper gave Miami its first double-digit advantage — 22-12 — of the lopsided series.
Portis’ 3-pointer — Milwaukee’s first of the afternoon (on its 10th attempt) — cut Miami’s advantage to 26-22 as the opening 12 minutes concluded. The Heat’s 26 points was the most they’ve had in an opening quarter this series.
The Heat shot 45.5 percent in the first quarter — far-improved from its 38.5, 34.8 and 26.1 first-quarter percentages in their first three contests — while draining four of their 10 triples. Milwaukee was held to just 34.6 percent from the floor in the opening quarter
In Game 3, Miami totaled just 36 first-half points. It surpassed that mark with 9:31 left in the second quarter on Saturday — courtesy of Dragic’s jumper — gifting it the 37-31 lead. Adebayo’s alley-oop finish, followed by Herro’s fastbreak triple put Miami ahead 58-46 — its largest lead of the game — with 2:58 left in the opening half. The Heat led 64-57 entering halftime; they shot 52.2 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from deep. The Bucks shot just 41.2 percent and netting just 28.6 percent of its 21 first-half 3-point attempts.
Milwaukee climbed back and took a 69-68 lead — its first lead of the afternoon — on a pair of Middleton free throws.
The Bucks didn’t look back.
Forbes’ 3-pointer — his fifth of the game — put the Bucks ahead 77-70, prompting a Heat timeout. It’s safe to say Udonis Haslem wasn’t impressed with his team’s performance out of halftime.
Dragic’s near buzzer-beating triple cut the deficit to six heading into the third quarter, but it wasn’t enough.
Two straight buckets from Antetokounmpo, followed by Portis’ corner 3-pointer widened its advantage to 98-88. Antetokounmpo’s layup increased it to 110-97 with 5:13 remaining. Back-to-back baskets from Lopez widened it to 116-101 with 2:31 remaining.
From there on out, it was all she wrote.
The Bucks advance to the second round and will face either the Boston Celtics or the Brooklyn Nets; the Nets currently lead the series 2-1. The Bucks look to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 2018-19 season, when it got eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in six games.
Just a year after an NBA Finals appearance, the Heat’s season ends at 40-36 with its fifth first-round sweep in franchise history. It will have a lot of questions to answer this offseason, beginning with which impending free agents to bring back. If the team options for Dragic and Iguodala are declined, here is a list of Miami’s impending free agents:
- Goran Dragic
- Andre Iguodala
- Trevor Ariza
- Nemanja Bjelica
- Duncan Robinson (RFA)
- Kendrick Nunn (RFA)
- Dewayne Dedmon
- Max Strus (RFA)
- Gabe Vincent (RFA)