Giannis Antetokounmpo clearly remembers what it felt like to get destroyed 4-1 by the Miami Heat last year. He, along with the rest of the Milwaukee Bucks, looks motivated to avenge that embarrassing loss.
While it took an overtime game-winner from Khris Middleton to take a scrappy Game 1, the Bucks didn’t even let the Heat get their foot in the door in Game 2. They orchestrated an annihilation that saw them finish the first quarter 46-20 and scored 78 points in the first half – a total Miami wouldn’t even hit until the third quarter.
The Bucks recovered from their three-point shooting woes in the first game, where they shot 5 of 31 from deep. This time around they shot 22 of 53, explaining the massive score discrepancy. Antetokounmpo shot only 1 of 7 from three, but the first basket of the game was a triple from him and that set the tone for the rest of the game.
The seemingly endless barrage of threes were unanswered by the Heat, who shot 8 of 28 from beyond the arc – a terrible percentage while shooting just under half as many as their opponents did.
Miami are lauded for their defense, but they had no answers for anything that was thrown at them today. It’s hard to imagine them winning the series, or even managing to tie it back home in Game 3 and Game 4 if they don’t find some answers on the defensive end.
Jimmy Butler finished with a game-worst plus/minus rating of -34 while only providing Miami with 10 points, two rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 32 minutes of play. Duncan Robinson, who was hot from the line last game, shot 2 of 6 from three for 10 points.
It’s hard to praise the Bucks enough for their dominant performance.
Yes, Giannis will get his numbers, and he had 31 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block with only two turnovers. The rest of his teammates also chipped in and spread it out, with Bryn Forbes getting hot and shooting 8 of 12 (6 of 9 from three) for a cool 22 points.
Khris Middleton provided his usual scoring punch with 17 points. Jrue Holiday, on the other hand, scored only 11 points but chipped in seven rebounds and a game-high 15 assists – providing additional floor generalship that the Bucks have been missing for the last couple of years. Holiday finished with a game-best plus/minus of +37.
The Bucks assisted on 34 of 46 made baskets. Getting an assist on 73.9% of made buckets in such a blowout shows a real commitment to playing as a team.
Coach Erik Spoelstra will have a lot of things to think about on that plane back to Miami. The Bucks have proven that bolstering their roster with the likes of Holiday and Forbes makes them a completely different beast compared to the team that was dominated, especially after Antetokounmpo hurt himself.
The Bucks will be happy with this 2-0 lead, but they’ll still be cautious. They had the same advantage a couple of years ago before the Toronto Raptors, led by Kawhi Leonard, engineered a four-game winning streak that knocked Milwaukee out on the way to ultimately winning the title.
Even a legendary grinder like Butler will be facing some self-doubt after such a huge defeat. The Heat lost to the Bucks twice in the regular season, by 14 points and 47 points, but Jimmy Buckets wasn’t around. He’s back now, and the result wasn’t any more encouraging in Game 2. Plus, Dewayne Dedmon was the Heat’s leading scorer with 19 points. That’s never a good sign.
Today’s 132 – 98 obliteration was a clear message from the Bucks. Let’s see how the Heat respond in Game 3.