I really wasn’t expecting much going into tonight’s game because the Bucks were facing a Miami Heat team that has basically become the unstoppable force of the NBA. If you’re reading this recap, then you probably know about Miami’s huge 21-game winning streak going into tonight’s matchup. The Heat are arguably the best team in the league (San Antonio and Oklahoma City are in the discussion) but there was some hope in the hearts of Bucks faithful after their defeat over the defending champions in late December. A big difference between these two games was the absence of Bucks defensive forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who was sidelined for this game with a turf toe injury.
The opening quarter was evenly matched up between these two teams, and the Bucks actually finished with a lead (27-26) simply because Milwaukee had 15 rebounds to Miami’s six. Sanders and Ilyasova combined for 11 of those rebounds. Speaking of Sanders, he made a huge statement play towards the beginning of the game where he blocked an apparent lay-up attempt by Dwayne Wade. While that really shouldn’t be surprising because Sanders is the king of denying shots but this one was different because it was absolute head-on collision that sent Wade crashing to the floor. D-Wade would suffer a strained neck but would return in the second quarter to help the Heat take over the game.
Miami quickly took over behind the play of LeBron James and Chris Bosh. LeBron was just too much for the Bucks to handle tonight with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. James finished the quarter with 9 points which mostly came on ISO and post-up plays on Marquis Daniels who guarded LeBron for the majority of the game.
While LeBron was outmuscling his opposition, Chris Bosh was just destroying the Bucks’ will his mid-range shot that was absolute unstoppable tonight. One of the main reasons why the shot was hitting on all cylinders is because he was so open because his defender (Larry Sanders) is more comfortable in the paint while Bosh is parked out on the perimeter. If these two teams do face off in the first round of the playoffs then coach Boylan will have to find some way to protect against Bosh’s mid-range jumper because it could one of the big things that could kill the Bucks.
Another thing that could kill the Bucks might be the inconsistent play of both Monta Ellis and Jennings. The Bucks entered the second half down by 10 but the margin quickly became larger because of the continued great play of Bosh, James and Wade but also because of some boneheaded moves by Jennings. Now, Jennings has been known as an extremely inconsistent player but he took it to a whole new level by shooting 2-8 from the field. After looking back at his shot attempts, I noticed that most of those attempts in the third came from contested long-range shots or from that strange floater that he’s been trying to establish this year.
While Jennings was hurting the Bucks on the offensive side, Bosh was putting the finishing touches on a Bucks’ defeat. Bosh shot a perfect 5-5 from the field in the quarter which helped bring an end to the game.
The Bucks fought hard in this game but still came up short to a Miami team that’s honestly a lot more talented. While it’s tough to see your team lose, I still have to respect the way this Bucks team battled hard against this great team. The BMO Harris Bradley Center at times looked like a Civil War battlefield with the number of bodies that were laid out on the floor. While it’s common knowledge that the Heat will most likely defeat Milwaukee in 4 or 5 games if they do meet up in the playoffs, I still believe it’ll be an entertaining matchup for fans of both teams.