For about 90 percent of Game 4, the Milwaukee Bucks had a steady lead over the Miami Heat and appeared to be well on their way to evening up the series 2-2.
Yet, Miami, mainly Jimmy Butler, got hot in the fourth and propelled a 41-point period by the Heat to take their first lead of the night and win the game. It’s an embarrassing loss for the Bucks; there is no other way around it. To make matters worse, the Bucks squandered a golden opportunity to tie this series up and now trail 3-1 instead due to their inability to close this one out.
Grueling Game 4 loss to Heat puts Bucks on the brink of elimination
Do the Bucks have a chance to win three consecutive games against the Heat? Yes, but they need more from their main guys. Giannis Antetokounmpo was solid in his return to the mix by posting a triple-double, and Brook Lopez was great with a playoff career-high 36 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking three shots. However, outside of them, no one else contributed much to the Bucks. That cannot happen, especially regarding Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton.
Simply put, Holiday and Middleton were both awful in Game 4. Holiday had another poor shooting performance by scoring just 14 points on 6-of-19 shooting, including 2-of-11 from three. While he made one at the end, Holiday’s shot selection from 3-point land was terrible. He continued trying an array of ill-advised step-back triples early in the shot clock that were simply forced. Holiday’s poor night was capped off by tallying his only turnover of the contest, which essentially sealed the deal for Miami.
Middleton wasn’t much better by scoring just 14 points on 3-of-12 shooting. Though he did have eight assists, Middleton had three grueling turnovers, which has been a key theme in this series as the forward’s handle on the ball has been non-existent. Middleton was also destroyed by Miami’s Jimmy Butler whenever he was forced to guard him. Butler even openly mocked Middleton in the fourth after getting an and-one on him en route to a historic 56-point performance.
Again, Holiday and Middleton are not the only two to blame here, as one would have loved to get more than 24 points on 7-of-20 field goal shooting from everyone outside of the main four, and Coach Budenholzer looked far from his best once again. However, these are two of the top-billed guys on the roster; they’ve both been named All-Stars over the past two years. They are better than what they have shown in this series, and they have to prove it moving forward.
It will be fascinating to see what the Bucks, especially, Holiday and Middleton can do in Game 5 back in Milwaukee. Due to the poor play of Holiday and Middleton, this somewhat feels like the first two games of the 2021 NBA Finals, where those two had terrible showings before turning things around. Hopefully it ends with the same result for the Bucks.
It’s do-or-die time for the Bucks, and some significant changes could happen if an early exit is in Milwaukee’s future. However, it’s not time to give up hope yet, as the bell has not been rung. It’s time to see what this Milwaukee team is made of moving forward.
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