Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks v. Miami Heat – March 9

Mar 9, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Miami Heat at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Miami Heat at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

It was Miles Plumlee and Giannis who got to lead the way for the Milwaukee Bucks over the Miami Heat and a dominant Hassan Whiteside.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: Jerryd Bayless, Khris MiddletonGiannis Antetokounmpo,Jabari ParkerGreg Monroe

Miami Heat: Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Luol Deng, A’mare Stoudemire

When Chris Bosh went down with an uncertain status on the year due to the re-emergence of blood clot problems, the Miami Heat could’ve run into a world of hurt. He does a lot to space their offense enabling Dwyane Wade to drive without concern while compensating for Hassan Whiteside’s relatively limited offensive repertoire. How would the team operate without Bosh setting the pace?

Well, I’ll tell you: They went out and got a Joe Johnson fresh off a buyout with the Brooklyn Nets and hungry to win again. And you know what? It has worked wonders!

In Miami’s last five games, he’s averaged 14 ppg on 66.7 percent shooting from three and 60.4 percent overall along with 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists, and each of those games has notched up another W for the Heat. So while he’s not lighting the world on fire, he’s proven he’s still got a little in the tank. Would he come out once more this evening and put something of substance together against Milwaukee?

An early Stoudemire-Giannis war of words was really the only bit of initial action, though Giannis channeled his emotion into some pretty plays, including this steal and slam:

From there on out, it was pretty much the Giannis Show. He was actively moving at all times, and some helpful passes got him into position to punish the basket with ease (and over plenty of Heat players). Giannis also quickly got revenge on Amare in the form of a beautiful poster:

As things were, the dividend of point contribution was characterized much like the past few weeks: Giannis-Khris did the majority of the heavy lifting with 21 of the 29 first quarter points for Milwaukee coming solely from those two. Not great for the team, but great for them.

More from Bucks News

The Heat had noted difficulty in getting their initial shots off in the paint, but a combination of poor boxing out, the length of Hassan Whiteside, and poor spacing allowed them to mount impressive second-chance point totals. Miami’s inability to score heavily from distance, though, did bode well and was a feature of Milwaukee’s aggressive attack on defense.

Of the trends of the evening, the ones most notable were an apparent lack of necessity by both teams to play anything resembling minimalist interior defense, and the heavy minutes many oft-unseen faces got for Milwaukee.

One could hypothetically connect the re-insertion of Greg Monroe into the starting lineup with the poor vertical defending around the basket, but I’m definitely not totally asserting that as a theory. Monroe or otherwise, far too often Whiteside would get on a full roll forcing a double and allowing other Heat guys to cut undefended. While some of their attempts didn’t fall, that one-two dynamic was enough to keep production at a high level and in a way that the Bucks struggled to stop.

Elsewhere, some of the guys we haven’t had much of a chance to watch much this year found their way down on the court as coach Jason Kidd is forced to dig a bit deeper on the bench to fully adjust to Michael Carter-William’s season being over.

Tyler Ennis was the most direct beneficiary, getting a chance to run the offense for some solid stretches of play, and though the offense wasn’t perfect under his guidance, he didn’t detonate into a million pieces. In 26 minutes with mainly subs, he contributed eight points and five assists. Yay!

The other unfamiliar face on display was the ever-ready-to-jump-plenty-for-rebounds Johnny O’Bryant. He played his usual brand of ball, reliant on athletic ability and a solid nose for the loose ball to make putbacks a viable offensive tool. While he hasn’t factored in much to the team’s plans this year, it is encouraging to see that he appears to not be the worst player in NBA history any longer.

Of course, Kidd kept things a bit weird in the form of a near no-show for Rashad Vaughn, even with Khris Middleton in foul trouble late in the third. Vaughn would only get four minutes, which seems a bit… odd. But okay.

Also of note: Jabari Parker had the quietest 23 point and three rebound night one can imagine, but it is only encouraging that he can put up that kind of number inauspiciously.

The Heat would grab the lead in the third and would continue to hold it until halfway into the fourth. A string of Giannis drives later, and a healthy lead developed for Milwaukee. Giannis’s 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists alongside Miles Plumlee’s defense in the final moments would be the difference as they put together just enough to edge the Heat out in a tight contest, 114-108

108. 110. 114. 89. Final

Another night, another try at progress will come Saturday evening as the Bucks host the New Orleans Pelicans.