Bucks

Bucks Halfway to Vanquishing Fiery Miami Demons

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In 2018, Bucks Lead optimistically speculated that Brandon Jennings‘ “Bucks in 6” could someday become “Bucks in 4.”

Fans don’t so much achieve dreams as they walk into and experience fantasies. Monday night, a 50% capacity crowd of 9,107 experienced perhaps the most surreal moment in the Giannis era. Milwaukee used a fire extinguisher to banish our dreaded rival, Miami, 132-98. And as the starters came out and some fans left early to catch the Brewers game, the three sweetest words a Bucks fan can hear echoed through Fiserv.

“Bucks in 4! Bucks in 4!”

How did Milwaukee build on its tight triumph Saturday with a much more convincing performance?

First 12 Minutes Matter

A popular misconception in the NBA posits that only the last two minutes matter. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, however, argues differently. He observes that the first quarter is the most important as it dictates the flow of the rest of the game (not a coincidence the Mavs are 28-0 this season when leading after one).

A road underdog who can’t quite win game one often is discouraged for game two. Giannis and his basketball family took Carlisle’s advice and brought out the dry ice on the first possession.

Giannis followed with a layup, and Donte DiVincenzo hit a three to make the score 8-0. But the Heat, led by passionate coach Erik Spoelstra, surely would have their run.

Here are some crucial facts, though. The Heat entered the series without Jae Crowder, who bedeviled Milwaukee in the bubble. Also, Jimmy Butler hasn’t been performing well, game one layup notwithstanding. (In game two, he recorded a +/- of -34!)

Most importantly, Miami didn’t enter the series with much momentum.

The 2020 coronavirus stoppage reset everyone’s confidence to zero, and Miami came readier to play than Milwaukee. The Heat incinerated Indiana while Milwaukee struggled in the seeding games and the first round.

This season, however, the Deer won seven of their last eight meaningful games, while Miami conceded its last contest in Milwaukee for a more favorable playoff matchup. The strategy almost worked in game one, but after Donte’s three, the Bucks proved they are no team’s best matchup.

Demon Death Sentence

The overworked Bucks Twitter guy couldn’t get to the record books quickly enough. Milwaukee buried ten threes in the first quarter while controlling the defensive boards.

While Milwaukee displayed an inconsistent defensive effort in the regular season, the Deer left no doubt Monday. They repeatedly deflected passes and frustrated Miami by rapidly closing on ballhandlers. Meanwhile, Bryn Forbes led all scorers (besides Giannis) with 22 points on six of nine three-point shooting – off the bench! The halftime score declared a death sentence to the Miami hunter-demons.

There’s nothing calm about 78 points in one half! The third quarter dragged from numerous video reviews, but the fourth proved a relaxing respite from usual playoff stress.

Nothing against the fine folks at Lakers Lead, but Giannis is more playful than LeEgo. He had a bit of fun during yet another stoppage by turning basketball into Europe’s more popular game.

The Bucks concluded the game perfectly. After Milwaukee took a shot-clock violation on purpose, the frustrated Heat didn’t take another shot. After the official blew his whistle to indicate the end of the game, Melanie Ricks celebrated with Bango.

Broader Thinking

The Bucks head to Miami for Thursday’s game three and Saturday’s game four. Milwaukee fans may still want to look at game five tickets as the Heat will give a spirited effort Thursday in front of more favorable fans. But it’s hard to imagine Miami winning both home games and another game in the Cream City.

Miami isn’t as talented as 2020, while the Bucks are more skilled and focused. The flaming Heat devils are cooling off while the Deer’s shooing burns a suddenly flammable NBA playoff field. While the Knicks lose home-court and the 6ers and Nets claw to victory, Milwaukee boldly declared its dominance for a 2-0 lead.

Maybe we need to expand Jennings’ thinking a bit. “I think the Bucks can win the title this year.” “Really? In how many games?” “I think Bucks in 16.”

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Stats courtesy of espn.com

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About Jeffrey Newholm

"Jammin Jeff" Newholm had been a basketball fanatic since his high school days, and remained a casual fan as a student in Whitewater. Wishing to check in as an active participant, he also completed a writing certificate program at UWM. He loves seeing Bucks games more than any other activity in hometown Milwaukee and especially screaming really really loudly to get someone to miss a free throw. Twitter: @JeffreyNewholm

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