MILWAUKEE — Coming off a dominant wire-to-wire victory at home to tie up the series, the Milwaukee Bucks lost their footing as they left the comforts of their home court for Game Three of the first-round series vs. the Miami Heat with a final score of 121-99.
Milwaukee unlocked a new way to win in Game Two by dominating in the paint to unlock the 3-point line. This time around, Miami put a clear emphasis on controlling the margin of points in the paint, outscoring the Bucks by 12 at the basket.
The team lost control of the game late in the first-quarter, giving up a lead which Miami maintained through the end of the game.
A silver lining for Milwaukee was the play of Khris Middleton, who contributed 23 points on 57.1% from the field and 3-of-5 shooting from the 3-point line along with six assists, five rebounds and two steals. While his persistent effort on both sides of the floor left a mark on his team, Middleton also contributed to a rough passing night as a group with five of the Bucks’ 18 turnovers.
This was the case for each of Milwaukee’s lead ball handlers as Jrue Holiday committed five turnovers while sixth man Joe Ingles turned the ball over three times himself. Credit to the Heat for lurching into passing lanes and prodding at the basketball through the full 48 minutes, resulting in at least two steals for four different Heat players.
The absence of superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was felt most prominently on the glass, where the Bucks lost the defensive rebounding margin by seven thanks in large part to a hard-nosed all around performance by Heat center Bam Adebayo (12 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block). He was a key factor in limiting Brook Lopez, who fell back to earth with just six points and three rebounds in a hair under 30 minutes.
In addition to Adebayo’s work on Lopez, the Heat attacked Sixth Man of the Year finalist Bobby Portis with reckless abandon, forcing him to foul out with nine points and 10 rebounds in only 23 minutes. Head coach Mike Budenholzer again called on Pat Connaughton to fill some of those extra minutes, leading to a 11-point, seven-rebound night.
Holiday followed Middleton with 19 points on 8-of-18 shooting while Grayson Allen had a solid game of his own with 14 points on 50% from the floor. The Heat were led by Jimmy Butler, who scored 30 points in 28 minutes before taking a hard fall on his back, similarly to Giannis in Game One, and exiting the game.
The Bucks are back in action against the Heat on Monday night. You can catch the action on 620 WTMJ, and don’t forget to check out Bucks In 6:00 — a six-minute recap of every game with exclusive audio and in-depth analysis after every game.
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