The Bucks demonstrated three quarters of championship-level basketball, but against the Heat — the team that actually is the reigning champs — it was only good enough for a three-point deficit. Then everything good the Bucks had going fell apart. Chris Andersen started pestering Milwaukee on the offensive glass, Ish Smith showed he wasn’t quite ready for prime time, and the Heat burst out on a 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter.
Those twelve points gave Miami the deciding edge in a 98-86 win.
Milwaukee had a number of factors in their favor for three quarters. They used impeccable ball movement to find high-percentage shots for their frontcourt — shots they were not getting in Game 1. After three quarters, the Bucks had 18 assists to only 13 for the Heat. Throw in some tough perimeter defense from Luc Mbah a Moute (vintage 2010 stuff) and Monta Ellis and the Bucks were playing to the level of the Heat
After the game, Brandon Jennings said, “Tonight, as a team, we showed a whole lot of improvement.” They did, but they didn’t sustain it. The fourth quarter belonged to the Heat. The Bucks should have built up a small lead earlier, but two issues held them back: Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings combined to shoot 5-for-22 from the field, and the Bucks were outshot at the free throw line in both number and accuracy. When Miami rolled late AND they already had a lead going into it, Milwaukee had no chance.
Ersan Ilyasova led the Bucks with 21 points (on 16 shots) and six rebounds.
More to come shortly.