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Caleb Martin Drops 28 as Heat Beat Giannis, Bucks Without Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 9, 2021

AP Photo/Morry Gash

No Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo, against a red-hot Milwaukee Bucks team that had won 10 of its last 11 games?

No problem.

The Miami Heat stunned the Bucks on Wednesday night, 113-104, without their two best players in action.

Instead, they were led by Caleb Martin's career night, 16 fourth-quarter points from Max Strus and a vintage defensive performance, limiting Giannis Antetokounmpo to just 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field.

Bally Sports Florida & Bally Sports Sun @BallySportsFL

The Strus???? Oh yeah. He's loose.<a href="https://twitter.com/MiamiHEAT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MiamiHEAT</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HEATCulture?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HEATCulture</a> <a href="https://t.co/7srZimI0Lu">pic.twitter.com/7srZimI0Lu</a>

Bally Sports Florida & Bally Sports Sun @BallySportsFL

ANOTHER KZ REJECTION 😀<a href="https://twitter.com/MiamiHEAT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MiamiHEAT</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HEATCulture?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HEATCulture</a> <a href="https://t.co/mo5XtBBJF9">pic.twitter.com/mo5XtBBJF9</a>

J.E. Skeets @jeskeets

Heat hand the Bucks their first loss of this season when Giannis, Middleton, and Jrue are all in the lineup.

The fear coming into the game was that the Heat might languish on the offensive end without Butler and Adebayo. The former re-aggravated a tailbone injury Monday, which ruled him out for the Bucks game Wednesday. The latter is out four to six weeks after having surgery this week on a torn ligament in his right thumb.

Instead, the Heat moved to 15-11 on the season and now lead the season series over the Bucks, 2-1, getting some revenge for Saturday's 124-102 loss to them. Milwaukee dropped to 16-10 on the year.


Key Stats

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Kyle Lowry, MIA: 22 points, 13 assists

Caleb Martin, MIA: 28 points, eight rebounds

Max Strus, MIA: 16 points, 4-of-7 from three

Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL: 15 points, six rebounds, four assists

Jrue Holiday, MIL: 27 points, four assists

Khris Middleton, MIL: 20 points


Caleb Martin Had Himself a Night

When a team is missing two stars, there has to be a role player who steps up in a major way to pick up the slack. Martin was that man Wednesday.

He's been picking up steam of late. Coming into Wednesday night, he had averaged a solid 12 points per game in his last five contests, well over his average (6.7 PPG) this season. He continued his surprising ascension against the Bucks, serving as a solid running mate for Lowry while setting a career-high in the process.

NBA @NBA

Caleb Martin sets a new career-high in STYLE πŸ’₯<br><br>24 PTS and 6 3PM as the <a href="https://twitter.com/MiamiHEAT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MiamiHEAT</a> and Bucks go back and forth on ESPN! <a href="https://t.co/a01tLbMNtR">pic.twitter.com/a01tLbMNtR</a>

Bally Sports Florida & Bally Sports Sun @BallySportsFL

CALEB MARTIN REJECTS BOBBY PORTIS 😀<a href="https://twitter.com/MiamiHEAT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MiamiHEAT</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HEATCulture?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HEATCulture</a> <a href="https://t.co/a3mfXAikX5">pic.twitter.com/a3mfXAikX5</a>

Bally Sports Sun: HEAT @BallyHEAT

Caleb Martin was π™ͺ𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙀π™₯π™₯π™–π™—π™‘π™š in the first half for Miami!<a href="https://twitter.com/MiamiHEAT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MiamiHEAT</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HEATCulture?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HEATCulture</a> <a href="https://t.co/wVWsolotbE">pic.twitter.com/wVWsolotbE</a>

Not too shabby for a guy on a two-way contract.

Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan @NekiasNBA

I can’t believe Caleb Martin has legitimately been the best player on a floor featuring a multi-time MVP, a fringe HOFer, and two other All-stars lol

Ira Winderman @IraHeatBeat

Caleb Martin thriving on day All-Star balloting is announced. Coincidence?

Will Manso @WillManso

Caleb Martin is bonkers tonight!!

The 26-year-old Martin has been a role player to this point in his career, and once Butler returns, he'll likely see his minutes decrease. But he's certainly making a strong case to be a regular contributor for the Heat going forward.


Jrue Holiday Was Efficiency Personified

Antetokounmpo had a subdued offensive night, at least by his standards, against a Miami team that also plays him tough and has a solid defensive plan to slow him down. And Middleton struggled to get his shot to fall consistently.

So Holiday handled the heavy lifting on the offensive end instead and did so while shooting a clean 12-of-17 from the field.

NBA @NBA

Jrue Holiday drops 13 PTS in the third quarter and has 24 for the game!<a href="https://twitter.com/Bucks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Bucks</a> and Heat head into Q4 on ESPN! <a href="https://t.co/LabNFJ8VJg">pic.twitter.com/LabNFJ8VJg</a>

Holiday is generally Milwaukee's third offensive option behind Antetokounmpo and Middleton. But without his solid performance Wednesday, this game would have gotten ugly.


What's Next?

Milwaukee travels to Houston to face the Rockets on Friday at 8 p.m. ET. The Heat will host the Chicago Bulls on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

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