The Miami Heat got a much-needed upset victory over the visiting NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks to begin their March slate.
The Heat topped Milwaukee 105-89 at AmericanAirlines Arena on Monday night, becoming the only team to defeat the Bucks twice this season despite Milwaukee entering the game as one of three teams in the league with 20-plus road victories in 2019-20:
This marked their first meeting since the Heat outlasted Milwaukee 131-126 in overtime at Miami way back on Oct. 26. The Heat were without center Meyers Leonard (ankle) and rookie 13th overall pick Tyler Herro (foot) for this matchup.
The Heat bucketed 48.6 percent on their threes while the Bucks struggled mightily from deep at 20.6 percent. Additionally, Milwaukee was held to under 100 points in back-to-back contests for the first time since Games 5 and 6 of last season's Eastern Conference Finals loss to the eventual champion Toronto Raptors.
Bucks veteran center Brook Lopez led all scorers with 21 points, but the team couldn't compensate for Giannis Antetokounmpo's off scoring night. The reigning league MVP finished with 13 points.
The Heat improved to 39-22 following a 6-7 February—their first losing month since April 2019.
All due respect to Miami's gutsy performance, but this might be the most meaningless blowout loss of the season considering Milwaukee is still firmly positioned as the favorites to come out of the East. The Bucks, who became the quickest team to clinch a playoff berth in NBA history on Feb. 23, dropped to 52-9 but still hold a 9.5-game lead over Toronto atop the Eastern Conference.
MIA F Jimmy Butler: 18 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal
MIA F Jae Crowder: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
MIA G Goran Dragic: 15 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
MIL C Brook Lopez: 21 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks
MIL F Giannis Antetokounmpo: 13 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
MIL F Khris Middleton: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal
Jae Crowder Leads Heat's 48.6-Percent 3-Point Shooting Night
Miami adjusted to All-Star Bam Adebayo being hampered by Milwaukee's supreme length underneath and beat the Bucks deep. Crowder, traded to the Heat prior to last month's deadline alongside Andre Iguodala, knocked down a game-high five triples:
The Heat bench went 12-of-21 from deep collectively, and they are consistently more successful when the three-ball is falling:
Miami, which entered this game ranked second in the league with a 38.2 three-point percentage, further bolstered the effect of its offensive barrage by locking down on defense. Milwaukee was clearly frustrated:
As for Crowder, the 29-year-old has hit at least three three-pointers in seven of his 10 games with the Heat since Memphis traded him (h/t Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel). Iguodala, a three-time NBA champion, was the headlining name in that trade, but Crowder has thus far been more impactful.
The Heat can return to the form shown during their blistering start to the season if Crowder can continue to be a valuable reserve during games in which Adebayo and Butler shoot better than a combined 12-of-30 from the field.
This season Bam Adebayo is averaging: 16.2 PPG 10.5 RPG 5.1 APG 1.2 SPG 1.3 BPG He's on pace to become only the 6th player in the NBA three-point era (since 1980) with a 15/10/5/1/1 season. The other 5 players: Giannis, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber, Larry Bird. https://t.co/uQszXdeHb2
Miami will have a chance to jockey for better position in the Eastern Conference with a very doable stretch this week against the Orlando Magic, New Orleans Pelicans and Washington Wizards. The Heat will face the Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls next week, who are a combined 60-121.
Giannis Ties Season-Low with 13 Points
Antetokounmpo has now scored a season-low 13 points twice.
The last instance came in a 127-106 win over the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 10, and the Bucks were able to subsist with 27 points from Middleton and 24 points from Eric Bledsoe. That was not the case against the Heat, with no Buck other than Lopez scoring more than 13.
Giannis was shaken off his game throughout:
And it wasn't just Giannis:
However, the Bucks will be fine to chalk up this result to the Heat recently having their number in Miami:
Just how well the Heat locked down the 25-year-old All-Star could be concerning for Milwaukee in a playoff series. Until then, though, there is no reason to panic.
This was the second game of a back-to-back for Milwaukee, and the Greek Freak scored 41 points in Charlotte on Sunday to go along with 20 rebounds and six assists. It marked his third game this season scoring at least 40 points, including one 50-burger.
That is the player the Bucks can count on to show up more often than not.
Miami and Milwaukee will return to game action on Wednesday.
The Heat will finish a five-game homestand against the Orlando Magic, while the Bucks will host Indiana before hitting the road for three games out west.