Jimmy Buckets 1, Greek Freak 0. Jimmy Butler dropped 40 points to lead the #5 Miami Heat over the #1 Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Heat won 115-104 and took an early lead in the best-of-seven series.
Giannis ‘Greek Freak’ Antetokounmpo had a rough Game 1 and barely scored in the fourth quarter. The Heat’s defense did a stellar job of picking him up on transition and denying him the ball. He took 12 shots all game.
The Bucks got off to a hot start with a 40-point first quarter and an early 11-point lead. The Heat countered with a strong second quarter to trim the deficit to three points at halftime.
The Heat pulled away in the third quarter before shutting down the Bucks in the fourth. The Heat’s clampdown defense allowed only 18 points in the final 12 minutes.
#1 Milwaukee Bucks (0-1) vs #5 Miami Heat (1-0)
Tip-off: 3:30pm PT
Point Spread: MIL -5
Total: 215 o/u
Money Line: MIA +190 / ML -215
The Bucks aren’t in panic mode … yet. They dropped the first game of the Orlando series, then won four-straight to advance to the Eastern semifinals.
The Bucks come into Game 2 as the favorite by five points over the Heat.
According to DraftKings, the Bucks are -186 odds favorites to win the series, while the Heat are +148 to win.
In terms of NBA championship odds, the Bucks are the third-best favorite behind the LA Clippers and LA Lakers at +360 to win the title. The Miami Heat are 13/1 odds to win the title.
Butler exploded for a career playoff-high 40 points. He scored 14 of those in the fourth quarter.
“I felt like I took it up a level in the fourth,” said Butler. “If that needs to happen every game, I’ve got to be able to do it. But we’ve got so many guys capable of doing it for us.”
Butler finished the game shooting 13-for-20 from the field. He also shot a near-perfect 12-for-13 from the free-throw line.
“He lives for these moments,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.
“We can be better defensively and he had one of those playoff moments,” said Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer. “Jimmy rose up and hit shots that were contested and difficult, and to his credit, he made them.”
Butler knows the Heat can’t win the series if he needs to score 40-plus every night. However, in Game 1, the team needed his scoring power. If they expect to continue to win, they will need contributions across the board. Duncan Robinson only scored one basket all game, banking in a trey.
Bam Adebayo had a stellar game with a double-double. He scored 12 points and hauled down 17 rebounds while showing some good touch with six assists.
The Greek Freak missed a triple-double by one dime. He finished Game 1 with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists.
But the Freak faded in crunch time and imploded at the charity stripe. He shot only 4-for-12 from the line, despite being a 75% career shooter.
“He just has to stick with his routine, stick with what he’s been doing, continue to have a lot of confidence, continue to attack, continue to get to the free throw line,” said Budenholzer. “He’s going to make them. We have total faith in him.”
The Greek Freak took only 12 shots all game, which is fairly low for an MVP-type player in the postseason.
“Would I want to be more aggressive? Obviously,” said Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks got two great games from the supporting cast. Khris Middleton finally looked like his old self with 28 points.
Brook Lopez had a stellar shooting performance with an 8-for-10 clip for 24 points.
“Our season is on the line,” said the Greek Freak after Game 1’s loss. “We’ve got to come out, play hard, watch the tape, make the adjustment, be aggressive, make the right play and, hopefully, we can win the game.”
“Just like they’ll be studying their film to get better, we’ll be doing the same,” explained Butler.
Who would have thought that free throws would be a big factor in the opening game? Poor free-throw shooting plagued the Bucks in Game 1. Milwaukee hit 14-of-26 free throws for 53.8%.
The Miami Heat took advantage of their good favor with the officials. The Heat knocked down 25-of-27 free throws for a solid 92.6%.
In our preview for the Miami/Milwaukee Game 1, we told you that 3-point shooting would be the X-factor in the series. We definitely believe that, over the entire series, the team that defends the trey better will come out ahead.
In Game 1, the Heat struggled from beyond the arc. For the Bucks, 3-pointers kept them in the game. The Bucks’ starters shot 13-for-25 from 3-point range, including a combined 8-for-14 from Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez.
The Heat shot 12-for-31 from long range. The Miami bench shot 4-for-13 from downtown. Their top sharpshooter, Duncan Robinson, had an off night with a 1-for-4 clip.
Butler, who doesn’t shoot a lot of long-range jumpers, went a perfect 2-for-2 from 3-point land. He drilled a huge trey with three minutes remaining to put the Heat ahead by six points.