The sixth-seeded Miami Heat were blown out 113-84 by the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3 at AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday. In the best-of-seven first-round playoff series, Milwaukee has a dominating 3-0 lead:
The Heat are on the danger of an early postseason elimination after representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals last season.
The Heat were already facing long odds after falling behind 2-0 in the series, since they have a 1-8 record in postseason series in which they had lost the first two games.
However, the Heat are currently in a scenario that no club in league history has ever recovered from. Although no NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series, three teams have forced a Game 7 after dropping the first three games.
When it comes to history not being on the Heat’s side, Jimmy Butler stated, “We’re not worried about that.” “We only control what we can control, and that is how we play, prepare, and compete.” We don’t give a damn about what history says or anything like that. But we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”
The next task for the Heat is to prevent a sweep. Only once in franchise history has Miami been swept in a best-of-seven series, and that was in the first round against the Chicago Bulls in 2007.
In fact, in the Heat’s history, they’ve only faced a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven playoff series three times. On two of those times, Miami won Game 4 before being ousted in Game 5, while on the other, they were swept.
When you look at the broad picture, everything might seem overwhelming,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But if you take things one step at a time, we can play well enough to win a game.” That’s all we have to concentrate on right now.”
Game 4 of the series will take place at AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (Bally Sports Sun, TNT).
“We’re up against a brick wall. Bam Adebayo, a Heat centre, stated, “It’s literally win or go home.”
Against the Bucks’ paint-packing defence, the Heat’s offence is still looking for answers.
Because there aren’t many clean chances near the basket, teams must make an efficient amount of above-the-break threes, mid-range shots, and non-rim paint opportunities to beat the Bucks’ defence. Milwaukee puts 7-footer Brook Lopez in the paint and challenges opponents to make enough non-rim twos to win, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, doesn’t help matters.
In the previous two games of the series, the Heat struggled to generate their customary offence at the rim, and that pattern continued in Game 3.
On Thursday, the Heat were just 10 of 22 (45.5 percent) around the rim, and they simply didn’t make enough of the open shots against the Bucks’ defence to make them pay for this type of coverage.
Spoelstra remarked, “They’ve taken away a lot of the simple relief points that we’re used to getting.” “You have to keep working the offensive, and with the way this series is going, it’ll probably be your second and third layers a lot. Then, quite frankly, when the ball goes in on some of those similar shots, it just looks different.
“Offensively, our lads have the appropriate mindset. All we have to do now is take a look at it and see where we can utilise a few more of our abilities. I believe I need to do a better job of loosening guys up, making them more comfortable, and putting them in their comfort zones.”
In Game 3, the Heat made 9 of 16 non-rim paint shots (56.3 percent), 4 of 15 midrange chances (26.7 percent), and 5 of 22 above-the-break threes (22.7 percent).
The Bucks were able to overcome their own first-half shooting woes, making only 40.4 percent of their shots in the first two quarters. Milwaukee, on the other hand, pulled away in the second half, scoring 64 points on 57.1 percent shooting.
With 22 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, Khris Middleton led the Bucks. Antetokounmpo scored 17 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, and dished out five assists.
The Heat’s 34-point defeat in Game 2 is the second-largest in franchise history. And Thursday’s 29-point loss in Game 3 is tied for the fifth-most lopsided playoff loss in franchise history, as well as the most lopsided home playoff loss.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Heat has been outscored by 63 points in the last two games, the most lopsided two-game span in franchise postseason history. Butler was taken aback by “how quickly it got out of hand” in the final two games.
In the series, Miami has made 42.6 percent of non-rim paint shots, 23.4 percent of midrange tries, and 31.8 percent on above-the-break threes. The Heat have shot 17 of 60 (28.3%) from three-point range in the last two games after setting new franchise playoff records with 20 made threes and 50 three-point attempts in Game 1.
Heat guard Goran Dragic stated, “They forced us to shoot those midrange shots and floaters.” “Lopez is doing a fantastic job of going inside the paint and putting everything to the test.”
The Heat shot 49.3 percent on non-rim paint opportunities, 45.8 percent on midrange jumpers, and 40.3 percent on long-range jumpers in a 4-1 second-round playoff win over the Bucks last year.
Miami has also been outrebounded 180-129 in the series, partly because it has missed far more shots than Milwaukee, but also because Milwaukee has controlled the offensive glass 46-28.
On Thursday, the Heat’s top scoring pair of Adebayo and Butler had their greatest offensive games of the series, while the rest of the team was quiet.
In Game 3, Adebayo and Butler, who had averaged 26 points on 29.3% shooting in the previous two games of the series, were much better. The Bucks, on the other hand, continued to find methods to prevent quality shot attempts near the rim, so they weren’t their best selves.
Adebayo finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists on 7-of-14 shooting. He only attempted three shots at the rim and missed all three of his midrange tries.
Butler finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, and six assists on 7-of-17 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc. In Game 3, he went 2 of 7 in the paint and is shooting 30.6 percent from the field for the series.
The Heat’s supporting cast did not provide much assistance, with the remainder of the starting lineup scoring 10 points on 4-of-24 shooting.
Trevor Ariza went scoreless for the second game in a row. In the series, he has only eight points on 2-of-11 three-point shooting.
Duncan Robinson just had two points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field and 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. He has shot 2 of 10 from beyond the arc in the last two games after hitting 7 of 13 threes in Game 1.
Dragic scored eight points on 3-of-14 field shooting and 2-of-6 three-point shooting.
In Game 3, the Heat made a change to its starting lineup in search of answers. The switch, however, had no effect on the needle.
On Thursday, Dragic began alongside Robinson, Butler, Ariza, and Adebayo in place of Kendrick Nunn.
In the first two games of the series, this five-man combination of Dragic, Robinson, Butler, Ariza, and Adebayo played 15 minutes together and had a plus/minus of -2. During the regular season, the Heat outscored opponents by 11 points in 61 minutes with this lineup on the court.
In Game 3, though, the results were not so good.
Dragic-Robinson-Butler-Ariza-Adebayo had a plus/minus of minus-7 in 11 minutes during Thursday’s loss.
In other Heat news, the Heat played for the first game in nearly 15 months on Thursday in a nearly-capacity AmericanAirlines Arena.
For the playoffs, the Heat expanded capacity at its home arena to 17,000, which is nearly 87 percent of its typical capacity of 19,600, making it the largest in the NBA thus far this season.
Game 3 was expected to draw a sellout audience of 17,000 people. The event drew the greatest crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena since the NBA season was halted on March 11, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the closing stages of the regular season, AmericanAirlines Arena had a capacity of around 5,700 people.