USATSI

Not many people predicted the Bucks to be down 2-0 to the Miami Heat in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference playoffs, but here we are. It literally came down to the buzzer in Game 2, as Jimmy Butler sank two free throws with no time remaining on the clock to lift Miami to a win, and a 2-0 series lead. Unlike Game 1, where Butler toasted the Bucks for a 40-point game, Milwaukee allowed seven Heat players score in double figures, led by Goran Dragic’s 23 points and rookie Tyler Herro’s 17-point, five-rebound and four-assist performance.

Reigning MVP and newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo racked up 29 points and 14 boards, but finished the game with a plus-minus of minus-7. While they got contributions from Khris Middleton (23 points), Brook Lopez (16 points) and George Hill (14 points), the Bucks need their best player to step it up a notch. He’s played good, but that isn’t going to be nearly enough to get Milwaukee back on even ground in this series. Here’s everything you need to know for Game 3 of the Bucks-Heat series.

Viewing information

  • Date: Friday, Sept. 4 | Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Disney Wide World of Sports — Orlando, Florida
  • TV: TNT
  • Odds: Bucks -5 | Over/Under: 223.5 (via William Hill Sportsbook)

Storylines

Bucks: Aside from Antetokounmpo needing to pick up his play, the Bucks need to tighten up on the defensive side of the floor. This is supposed to be the best defensive team in the league, and they’re allowing rookies like Herro get off shots with ease, and allowed Miami to shoot 37 percent from 3-point range in Game 2. While there’s certainly questions that need to be answered on the offensive side of the floor, the Bucks won’t stand a chance if they’re going to let Dragic break out for 23 points and let the Heat shoot 45 percent from the field. Milwaukee is getting exposed on several fronts in this series, but if it can put forth a better effort on defense, it may give it more of a chance on offense.

Heat: Game 2 was a more balanced effort from Miami, and that’s a great sign for this team going forward in this series. The Heat have done a great job of keeping Giannis in check offensively, and instead opted to let others on the roster beat them. So far, a combination of Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez hasn’t proven to be enough to beat the Heat, and that will likely continue to be the game plan the rest of the way. There were concerns on whether Herro and Kendrick Nunn would be able to deliver in the postseason, and while Nunn has been pushed further and further down the depth chart, Herro has answered the call and performed well thus far. His 17 points in Game 2 showed that he’s not afraid of the big moments, and will surely get more opportunities as the Bucks try to adjust their defensive scheme to slow down Butler and Bam Adebayo. 

Prediction

While Miami is up 2-0, and the Bucks haven’t shown a good enough reason to pick them, they have to win Game 3 in order to have a chance in this series. Giannis may just go off on offense, and show why he’s the reigning MVP in this league. Pick: Bucks -5

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