Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks v. Miami Heat – January 29

Jan 29, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Khris Middleton (22) and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) battle for a loose ball in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 29, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Khris Middleton (22) and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) battle for a loose ball in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

It was every bit of a thriller from start to finish, but the Milwaukee Bucks can’t pull it out down the stretch as the Miami Heat steal the W.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe

Miami Heat: Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire

Forever in the pursuit of vindication for the style of basketball they have chosen to portray in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks had the opportunity to welcome newfound frenemies the Miami Heat to town in a re-match of last week’s 91-79 Bucks victory.

Heading into tonight, both sides were a bit light-handed with Tyler Johnson (shoulder) and Hassan Whiteside (hip) out for Miami and John Henson (back) and Johnny O’Bryant (birth of his child!) taking the night off for Milwaukee. Whiteside is usually an absolute monster when given opportunities against a lightly rebounding team in Milwaukee, so not having to worry about him should’ve theoretically assisted the Bucks.

Interestingly, both teams got off to very effective starts to the game led respectively by Jabari Parker and Amar’e Stoudemire (???) who both had no difficulty scoring. As has been the case largely throughout the year, Parker excelled when allowed to run a bit in transition or when moving off-ball in offensive sets. His athleticism and size easily overwhelmed Stoudemire, sparking a hot start.

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Jerryd Bayless was subbed in and immediately fouled Dwyane Wade for a three-point play, which succinctly summarizes how he’s been playing as of late. Miami began to pull away thanks to the facilitation by Wade on the ball, and they’d push their way to a 33-28 lead over Milwaukee.

While it has been opponents’ outside shooting that has normally killed the Bucks with time, throughout the first half it was actually turnovers and the points off those turnovers that really gave the Heat an undeniable edge. Their energy and relentlessness created 14 turnovers for Milwaukee leading to 19 points the other way, and all of the easy attempts at the rim paved the way to a 55 percent shooting mark in first half for the visitors.

That was not good.

You know what was good? This Giannis steal & 180 pump reverse dunk:

The starting unit dug deep somewhere and decided to slow Miami down just a step, and unlike last evening, it was Giannis and Jabari (combined 10-19) who made the difference where MCW and Middleton struggled (2-12). Comedies of errors aside, if the Bucks could lock hold on possession, the roles at the pause might’ve been swapped. As it was, one found the Bucks down at half, 48-55.

Miami continued to make it a focal point of their strategy to move the ball as much as they possibly could, and the interior D just wasn’t there at all tonight for Milwaukee. Things devolved rapidly into a track meet, and as we all know, deer weren’t meant to sprint for long distances (at least in juxtaposition to a ray of light, which is what we’ll categorize ‘Heat’ as here… moving on).

In a bout of luck for Milwaukee, Miami tended to keep their play within the perimeter arc which didn’t neutralize all of the focus and energy from the frontcourt for the Bucks. It was Monroe, Parker, and Giannis who really led the way on their way to scoring 69 combined taking advantage inside with scary consistency.

A fantastic closing third quarter three from Rashad Vaughn gave Milwaukee their first lead on the night, and they would head into the fourth in control, 83-81. Team was hype:

If there was one notable change from last evening to tonight, it would be usable production from the bench to help pick the team up in scoring droughts. Miles Plumlee came in and made a huge impact thanks to effort and much-needed scoring, Rashad Vaughn came in and did his thing on his way to a three of four night from the floor, and Tyler Ennis didn’t set himself on fire. That last part was very important.

As has been a trend some evenings this season, things got tight and competitive in the fourth. Amar’e Stoudemire turned things up in a big way with timely blocks and defensive possessions to corral an over-pressing Milwaukee O.

The turnover bug returned late, and as the Bucks piled up their way to a sloppy 19 turnovers, execution appeared to hinder a final rush to a W.

That is, until Jabari decided to take over with a deafening rejection of a Wade layup to spark a Monroe bucket to tie things. A Deng three put Miami up again, but Milwaukee would get one final shot, and Giannis tried to murder someone as he slammed a dunk home.

Poor timing with fouls and more TOs combined with Wade freethrows, and the choice to go for a three instead of a quick two derailed any chance at a comeback, however, Giannis dunks or no Giannis dunks. Bucks fall tonight, 103-107.

107. 110. 103. 89. Final

Milwaukee gets the weekend off, but be sure to tune back in next Monday evening as the Bucks head out to California to kick off another road trip in Sacramento.