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Giannis Drops 17 as Bucks Cruise Past Heat to Take Commanding 3-0 Series Lead

Blake SchusterContributor IMay 28, 2021

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks continued to bully their way past the Miami Heat on Thursday, picking up a 113-84 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals as the series shifted to South Florida.  

Milwaukee now leads the best-of-seven 3-0 and will look to complete a sweep of last year's conference champions at American Airlines Arena on Saturday. 

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

BUCKS WIN!! pic.twitter.com/op9jhJvmdJ

Despite inserting guard Goran Dragic into the starting lineup in place of Kendrick Nunn, the Heat couldn't keep up with a Bucks offense that ranked as the best unit in the NBA (120.1 points per game) during the regular season. 

Milwaukee, meanwhile, can advance past the first round for the third consecutive season with one more win, eliminating Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and a gritty Heat team from the playoffs. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Chuck bringing out the broom for Miami 💀<br><br>(via @NBAonTNT) pic.twitter.com/IwpaHXt8K8

Notable Performers

Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF, Milwaukee Bucks: 17 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists

Khris Middleton, SF, Milwaukee Bucks: 22 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists

Jimmy Butler, SF, Miami Heat: 19 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists

Bam Adebayo, C, Miami Heat: 17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists

Bucks’ Third Quarter Buries Heat 

It only took one quarter for the Bucks to prove the Heat couldn’t hang with them. Unfortunately for Miami, that came in the third frame, after Milwaukee took a 49-36 lead into halftime. 

Even with Donte DiVincenzo forced out of the game with a left foot injury at the break, Milwaukee was able to insert Bryn Forbes (11 points) into its first unit without losing any of the three-point shooting it relies on DiVincenzo to provide.

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Need a corner three?<br><br>P.J. Tucker is here. pic.twitter.com/xVq7vf0Mxk

The Bucks drilled more three-pointers in the third quarter (seven) than Miami made in the first three quarters combined (six). That helped Milwaukee score more points in one frame than the Heat mustered in the entire first half. The Bucks rode a 37-24 run in the third quarter to a rather tame fourth quarter in which Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo found themselves benched with their team down 30 and five minutes to play. 

Forbes sank three shots behind the arc himself as every Bucks player aside from DiVincenzo notched at least 13 points in the win. 

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

"That's how we do!" <br><br>Love to see the bench hyping up Bryn!! pic.twitter.com/7RYwdcGTl8

NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT

Giannis fadeaway over Bam 👀 pic.twitter.com/F7OwivQoJK

Milwaukee may not have won the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but it may have ended up with the best draw, getting to feast on a worn down Heat club before likely facing the Brooklyn Nets in the second round—Brooklyn leads the Boston Celtics 2-0 in their series. 

By the end of the night, the Bucks had shot 48.3 percent from the floor while playing a much more athletic brand of basketball. Miami could only attempt to shoot their way back into contention. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Bobby Portis throws it down 🔨<br><br>Bucks are up big pic.twitter.com/6cY4KBVJuZ

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

A U T O M A T I C pic.twitter.com/SR7sXslqcJ

It wouldn’t work. Whatever halftime adjustments Spoelstra made, they were quickly cancelled out by Milwaukee’s third quarter performance which all but secured a third straight victory over the Heat. 

Now the Bucks need just one more win to sweep Miami after the Heat eliminated Milwaukee in five games during the second round last summer. 

Heat Offense Stays Cold In Game 3

It’d be easy to forgive casual NBA viewers for mistaking Thursday’s Heat performance for a mid-December contest rather than a crucial postseason matchup. 

Miami’s offense looked disjointed, failing to consistently get good looks at the rim and routinely failing to cash in on the good possession the Heat did put together. It’d also be easy to mistake Miami’s roster for a group that hadn’t spent much time together, not one that won the Eastern Conference less than a year ago. 

What Miami did look like on Thursday was lifeless. 

Aside from Butler, who notched his best outing of the postseason so far, the Heat never got into rhythm. Instead, they trailed by double digits from the end of the first quarter until the end of regulation with the Bucks leading by as much as 32. 

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

An instant BUCKET pic.twitter.com/eDZpUuJcYz

The only lead Miami held all night was 2-0 after Bam Adebayo opened up the scoring one minute into regulation. 

Instead, the Heat shot 37.6 percent from the floor (32-of-85) as head coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to insert Dragic into the starting lineup failed to pay off. The shooting guard netted just five points and two assists in the first half before finishing with eight points on 14 field goal attempts. 

Now facing a 3-0 series deficit, the Heat will have to make NBA history or begin enjoying their offseason earlier than expected. No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 deficit. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Heat fans counting down Giannis during his free throws 😅 pic.twitter.com/Bhji5lvHbu

If returning to their home court, adjusting the starting lineup and having their fans pack the American Airlines Arena didn’t help change the Heat’s fortunes, it’s hard to imagine what will at this point.

After a charmed run to the NBA Finals in 2020, Miami appears to have run out of magic. 

What's Next

Game 4 between the Bucks and Heat is scheduled for Saturday, May 29 at 1:30 p.m. ET on TNT. 

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