Khris Middleton Last-Second Shot Gives Bucks OT Win vs. Jimmy Butler, Heat in Game 1May 22, 2021
The Milwaukee Bucks are off to a much better start in this year's playoffs after their 109-107 overtime win over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference postseason series on Saturday at Fiserv Forum.
Khris Middleton's jumper with 0.5 seconds remaining provided the difference for the Bucks.
Jrue Holiday's fastbreak layup with 39.3 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Bucks a three-point advantage. It was his first made field goal since the 6:04 mark of the fourth quarter.
Goran Dragic tied the game after an offensive rebound from Bam Adebayo, but with 20 seconds to play, Middleton was able to play hero for the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't have a great game overall, but he made two huge plays down the stretch starting with a free throw that put the Bucks up 98-97 with 34.3 seconds remaining in regulation.
On Miami's ensuing possession, Antetokounmpo knocked the ball out of Jimmy Butler's hands to force a jump ball. The Bucks got possession back, and Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws after being fouled to increase the lead to two with nine seconds remaining.
Butler sent the game into overtime with a layup as time expired after blowing past Antetokounmpo to the basket.
After the Bucks posted the NBA's best regular-season record last year, they lost the opening game of their first-round series with the Orlando Magic before winning the series 4-1. Their strong play didn't continue, however, as they were eliminated in the second round of the postseason in five games by Miami.
Milwaukee's front office got aggressive in the offseason to acquire Holiday with the hopes his versatile all-around game would be the missing piece for this team to reach the NBA Finals.
The Heat struggled to find a consistent rhythm for most of the 2020-21 season, but they closed the year on a roll with 18 wins in their final 26 games.
Both teams struggled down the stretch, combining for 58 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Antetokounmpo's struggles from the free-throw line remain a problem. He missed four of his last five attempts from the charity stripe in regulation and was called for a 10-second violation.
Notable Game Stats
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL): 26 points (10-of-27 FG), 18 rebounds, 5 assists
- Jrue Holiday (MIL): 20 points (9-of-18 FG), 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
- Khris Middleton (MIL): 27 points (10-of-22 FG), 6 assists, 6 rebounds
- Jimmy Butler (MIA): 17 points (4-of-22 FG), 10 rebounds, 8 assists
- Duncan Robinson (MIA): 24 points (7-of-13 3PT)
- Goran Dragic (MIA): 25 points (10-of-17 FG), 2 rebounds
Defense Carries Bucks in Game 1
The Heat weren't an offensive juggernaut for most of the regular season, but they turned it on down the stretch. Their offensive rating of 122.2 over the final nine games ranked second in the NBA, per NBA.com.
Milwaukee was the best offense in the NBA during the regular season by points per game (120.1) and ranked fourth in rating (116.5).
Despite the amount of offensive talent that was going to be on the court Saturday, it seemed like whichever defense stepped up would make the difference in Game 1.
Early on, it looked like the Heat were going to keep having their way with the Bucks. Butler had Antetokounmpo off balance in the first quarter.
Milwaukee managed just 22 points in the first 12 minutes. Head coach Mike Budenholzer, who is facing a lot of pressure this postseason, rallied his team in the second quarter.
The Bucks dropped 31 points in the second to take a 53-50 lead into halftime. They did that despite shooting just 11.8 percent from behind the arc.
The Bucks finished up shooting 5-of-31 from behind the three-point line. Miami went 20-of-50 from deep, prompting ESPN's Kevin Pelton to note the historical nature of this loss:
Unlike previous years when Budenholzer seemed like he was carefully managing Antetokounmpo's minutes in the playoffs, the two-time NBA MVP was cut loose in the first half:
Antetokounmpo still has issues against Miami's defense that he's been unable to figure out. He missed 17 of 27 field-goal attempts and shot below 50 percent from the free-throw line (6-of-13).
While Antetokounmpo is going to command most of the attention as the Bucks' best player, it was the team's two new additions that played a huge role in Saturday's game.
P.J. Tucker was acquired from the Houston Rockets in March to provide defense on the wing. He finished Game 1 with a plus-eight rating despite scoring zero points and attempting one field goal in 18 minutes.
Holiday dropped 20 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and disrupted Butler's final three-point attempt in overtime to seal the win.
Holiday was acquired to be a difference-maker for this type of moment. He gave the Bucks exactly what they needed in his first playoff appearance for the organization.
Butler, Adebayo Struggle in Loss
Few people were paying attention to Milwaukee's 2-1 advantage over the Heat in the regular season because Butler sat out all three games between the two teams.
Based on his performance in Game 1, Butler wouldn't have made much of a difference in any of those matchups. The five-time All-Star did have a few nice moments on the defensive end, but his 18.2 field-goal percentage was his second-worst mark of the season (0-of-6 on Jan. 1).
Butler's shooting struggles were emblematic of a teamwide problem for the Heat when they were taking shots from anywhere inside the three-point line.
One area where the Heat weren't having many problems was behind the arc. Duncan Robinson scored 21 of his 24 points on seven three-point field goals.
After going 0-of-7 from the field in the first three quarters, Tyler Herro went 2-of-3 from three to help spark the Heat's offense.
When the Heat weren't making threes, though, their only source of offense was when they got to the free-throw line. They were just 16-of-49 on two-point attempts.
Butler and Adebayo combined to go 8-of-37 from the field.
Miami's run to the Finals last year was sparked by Adebayo playing like a superstar and Herro shooting 37.5 percent from three in 21 games.
If those two things aren't going to happen again this postseason, the Heat will find themselves in trouble. They weren't able to intimidate the Bucks like they did last time these teams met in the playoffs.
The Heat and Bucks will play Game 2 at Fiserv Forum on Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET.