Editor’s note: Behind the Buck Pass apologizes for the (very) late recap of Tuesday’s game due to a scheduling mixup.
Any hopes of the shorthanded Bucks (2-4) keeping up with the two-time defending champs were dashed early Tuesday, as Miami (5-3) jumped out to a 32-23 first quarter lead and never looked back.
One game after expressing frustration with his team’s defensive effort, LeBron James got off to a fast start and keyed a Miami attack that forced 18 turnovers and blocked seven shots. James finished with a game-high 33 points on 13-of-21 from the field. Over half of his points (17) came in the third quarter alone, when he almost singlehandedly put the game away before sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
As has been the custom thus far, Milwaukee was slow out of the gate, and the starters once again failed to get anything going offensively. After scoring 28 points in each of the last two games, O.J. Mayo chipped in just six points on six shots, while Caron Butler was the only starter in double-figures (10 points on 4-of-15 shooting). John Henson came off the bench to add 18 points in 25 minutes and Gary Neal chipped in 18 of his own with a trio of three-pointers.
With Udonis Haslem sitting out and Shane Battier starting in his place, Larry Drew opted to counter with a smaller lineup featuring Caron Butler as the de facto power forward with Zaza Pachulia at center. Henson seems to be the guy who was squeezed out, but Drew apparently wasn’t keen to the idea of Henson chasing Shane Battier around the perimeter.
A few observations:
– Rebounding was one of the storylines heading into the game, as both teams ranked near the bottom in the league in several categories. Miami, the league’s worst per-game team on the glass outrebounded Milwaukee – owners of the worst per-game differential – 40 to 34.
– Highlights were few and far between on the Bucks side of things, but this alley-oop from Mario Chalmers to LeBron James will go down as one of the best of the Big Three era – and that’s saying a lot.
– Giannis Antetokounmpo logged a career-high 22 minutes and scored 11 points – also a career high – while knocking down three of his five three-point attempts. The rookie also pulled down two rebounds, and whether he remains a part of the rotation in closer games will be something to keep an eye on.
Points: James (33)
Rebounds: Wade (8)
Assists: Chalmers 97)
Blocks: Bosh, Wade, Andersen (2)
Steals: Battier, Chalmers, Wade, Lewis (2)
Points: Henson, Neal (18)
Rebounds: Middleton (7)
Assists: Knight (6)
Blocks: Middleton (1)
Steals: Wolters (3)