The Bucks Throttled The Heat To Take A 2-0 Series Lead

With the help of a late jumper from Khris Middleton, the Milwaukee Bucks secured a memorable Game 1 victory over the Miami Heat on Saturday. Just two days later, the same two teams squared off at Fiserv Forum but, while the win-loss result was identical, the game flow was anything but similar. In fact, Milwaukee threw the first punch, then the second and third and… well, the Heat never punched back and the Bucks emerged with a thoroughly dominant 132-98 win to take a 2-0 series lead.

Mike Budenholzer’s team was brilliant from the opening tip, zooming to a 19-4 run in the first five minutes. Giannis Antetokounmpo set the tone with nine points, five rebounds and two assists in that span, and the Bucks caught fire with scalding-hot shooting.

The Bucks pushed their lead to 29-10 with the help of reserve guard Bryn Forbes, who made his presence felt with authority. The former Spurs guard made his first five shots, including four three-pointers, in his first six minutes of action, and Forbes’ 14-point barrage helped to break the game open for good.

Milwaukee led by as many as 28 points in the opening period before settling in with a 46-20 lead after 12 minutes of play. The Bucks shot a mind-blowing 72 percent from the floor in the quarter, converting 10 three-pointers and generating 17 assists. All told, the ten three-point connects were the most in any quarter this season for Milwaukee, and the team’s 26-point lead tied for the largest first quarter margin in NBA playoff history.

While the damage was largely done, the Bucks didn’t cool off and that especially went for Forbes. He scored 19 points in his first eight minutes, helping to extend the margin early in the second quarter.

By the halftime break, the game was essentially over with the Bucks leading by 27 points. Milwaukee set a franchise playoff record with 15 three-pointers in the half, shooting 56 percent overall with 22 assists, including 11 dimes from Jrue Holiday. Not only did the Bucks shoot the lights out, but they also secured 11 offensive rebounds (on only 23 missed field goals), and Milwaukee used that combination to score more than 1.5 points per possession in the first half.

Milwaukee didn’t dominate the third quarter, but they did more than enough to ensure that the Heat weren’t going to threaten. The Bucks won the third period by a two-point margin, taking a 28-point lead to the fourth quarter, and other than some fireworks and words exchanged between the two teams, the second half was largely academic in nature.

Perhaps the Bucks could have pursued NBA playoff history offensively if the game was more competitive, but they were ludicrously efficient on the whole. Milwaukee finished the night shooting 22-of-53 from three-point distance, and they assisted on 34 field goals despite nearly an entire half of garbage time. Antetokounmpo led the way with 31 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals, with big nights from Holiday (11 points, 15 assists), Forbes (22 points) and Middleton (17 points on eight shooting possessions).

With the win, the Bucks seize control of the series, but the Heat can take minor solace in the matchup shifting to Miami beginning with Game 3 on Thursday. Though the saying goes that the series does not begin until the home team loses, the Heat will need to find solutions in a hurry against a Bucks team that is seemingly firing on all cylinders.