Milwaukee learned its B game wasn’t enough to beat the Heat on Monday.
The Bucks hit reset after a Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat and look to even the Eastern Conference semifinals series at 1-1 on Wednesday night.
“It wasn’t a bad game,” Bucks guard Kyle Korver said. “It was a B. If you want to win in the playoffs, you’ve got to get an A.”
The Heat broke away late for a 115-104 victory over the Bucks in Game 1 on Monday night, with Miami star Jimmy Butler vastly outperforming Milwaukee Most Valuable Player candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Miami opened the postseason last month in a similar manner, dispatching of the higher seed — No. 4 Indiana — 113-101 in the best-of-seven opener.
The Heat took control of the series by duplicating their success in Game 2, winning 109-100 en route to a four-game sweep and is 5-0 in the 2020 playoffs.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, was stunned 122-110 by eighth-seeded Orlando in their first-round opener two weeks ago.
The Bucks regrouped to immediately turn the tables on the Magic, romping 111-96 in Game 2 to tip off a sequence of four double-digit wins.
Goran Dragic had 27 points, Bam Adebayo notched a double-double with 12 points and 17 rebounds, and Andre Iguodala helped spearhead a team defensive effort against Antetokounmpo. It was Butler’s postseason career-high 40 points that made the biggest difference in the Heat’s opening win over the Bucks.
Afterward, Antetokounmpo, recently voted the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, was asked if he had volunteered to guard Butler.
“No, I didn’t. Why would I do that?” he questioned. “I’ll do whatever the coach tells me to do.”
Both teams exhausted numerous fouls on the other team’s standout. That also worked in Miami’s favor.
While Butler shot 12-for-13 at the free throw line, Antetokounmpo suffered through a 4-for-12 night.
Miami outscored Milwaukee 25-14 from the line in the 11-point win.
Butler credited a team effort for the win.
“It’s not about just scoring,” he professed. “It’s about guarding. It’s about making the right play, getting the 50-50 ball. That’s all part of winning the game.”
Antetokounmpo also had a poor night at the line in the Game 1 loss to Orlando, going 4-for-9. He rebounded to go 7-for-8 in Game 2 as part of a 28-point, 20-rebound double-double.
The Heat limited Antetokounmpo to 12 field goal attempts in the series opener. It was his fewest shots since taking 10 in a loss at Boston in Game 5 of their first-round series in 2018.
Antetokounmpo fired up 23 shots in his next game that time, scoring 31 points in a win.
Milwaukee went without guard Eric Bledsoe in Game 1 due to a strained hamstring. He is listed as questionable for Game 2.
The Bucks outshot the Heat overall (49.3 percent to 46.4) and on 3-pointers (45.7 percent to 38.7), but took nine fewer shots than Miami. Nineteen Bucks turnovers and 12 Heat offensive rebounds contributed to that disparity.
Antetokounmpo was harassed into a game-high six of the turnovers.
Adebayo, meanwhile, had six of Miami’s 12 offensive rebounds, one shy of the Milwaukee team total.
Khris Middleton with 28 points and Brook Lopez with 24 were the Bucks’ top scorers in Game 1.
–Field Level Media