Without Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic both out, the Miami Heat were seen as significant underdogs to topple the Milwaukee Bucks in Orlando on Thursday afternoon. The Heat put together quite a fight, however, and Erik Spoelstra’s team led for the majority of the contest. In the end, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and the Bucks flipped the script in the second half, overcoming a double-digit deficit and securing a 130-116 victory.
Miami blitzed Milwaukee out of the gate, putting on an offensive clinic against the best defense in the NBA. Not only did the Heat knock down 13 three-pointers in the first half, but Miami also generated easy buckets along the way.
The Heat led by as many as 23 points and, even after Milwaukee found life late in the first half, a Bam Adebayo buzzer-beater gave Miami a 17-point edge at the break.
In predictable fashion, the Bucks awakened in the third quarter, providing a reminder that they were the best team in the NBA prior to the hiatus. Milwaukee created six turnovers, converted all 15 of their free throw attempts, and generally dominated the proceedings.
Still, the Heat were in the driver’s seat, at least to some extent, until Milwaukee put together another run. After trailing for a (very) long time, the Bucks scored 13 straight points to claim a 107-103 lead with seven minutes remaining.
From there, Miami did briefly stop the bleeding, but the damage was largely done. The Bucks then finished things off with a mind-blowing 20-0 run to take a 130-111 lead, and Antetokounmpo was in the middle of it all.
Giannis has it going in the 4th QTR 😤 pic.twitter.com/1m7HsFy3ii
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 6, 2020
Though the Heat did provide a worthy challenge, Milwaukee flashed their considerable upside after halftime. In the second half, the Bucks shot 56 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three-point range, outscoring the Heat by a 74-43 margin while clamping down on the defensive end. Antetokounmpo and Middleton finished with 33 points each and, even with the slow start, each member of Milwaukee’s starting unit finished with a +15 or better.
Giannis (33 PTS) and Middleton (33 PTS) carry the Bucks from 23 down to shock the Heat 🤯 pic.twitter.com/wvaeqZr4yD
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 6, 2020
The Bucks haven’t been consistently dominant in the bubble, as evidenced by the first half on Thursday and a bizarre loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Still, Milwaukee sent a bit of a message in the second half, and they don’t appear to be “struggling” anymore.