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Giannis Struggles as Bucks Suffer 105-89 Defeat to Jimmy Butler, Heat

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IMarch 3, 2020

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) drives to the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Wesley Matthews during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 2, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

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:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Only 3 NBA teams have 20 or more road wins so far this season. Two of them are in action on the road on Monday - the Bucks in Miami against the Heat and the Mavericks in Chicago against the Bulls. https://t.co/Rc5T5D1Mdx

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.

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

Miami held Milwaukee to just 89 points - their lowest scoring game this season. https://t.co/CYxVys6OpJ

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.

Notable Performances

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:

NBA @NBA

4⃣ 2Q triples for Jae Crowder! His game-high 16 PTS have the @MiamiHEAT up at the half on @NBATV. https://t.co/zTGH8oVI51

The Heat bench went 12-of-21 from deep collectively, and they are consistently more successful when the three-ball is falling:

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

The Miami HEAT are now 15 - 3 when they make 16+ threes. #KaBOOM https://t.co/otciILe6SN

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:

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

Miami HEAT defense is on FULL display tonight. #HEATCulture https://t.co/F66cgOCuav

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Things got chippy at the end of Bucks-Heat 😳 https://t.co/pFvVY25Wu2

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.

StatMuse @statmuse

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:

NBA on ESPN @ESPNNBA

Heat defense gave Giannis all he could handle. Season-low 13 points for the Greek Freak 🔒 https://t.co/9ixj69R4IG

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Bam locked up Giannis 😳 https://t.co/b6CzQpRsqa

And it wasn't just Giannis:

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

Oh Deer, what a night on D 😬 held the Bucks to 36.6% FG (15-41) and 14.3% 3PT FG (2-14) while forcing 6 turnovers and blocking 4 shots in the 2nd half of tonight's W. #HEATCulture https://t.co/XnEb55iLsw

However, the Bucks will be fine to chalk up this result to the Heat recently having their number in Miami:

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

Miami has won 6 of their last 7 over Milwaukee inside @AAarena. #HEATWin https://t.co/L05nvq2oVX

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.

Anthony Chiang @Anthony_Chiang

The Bucks are now 8-1 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.

That is the player the Bucks can count on to show up more often than not. 

What's Next? 

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.

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