Bucks

Heat Overwhelmed Bubble Bucks, But Lakers Provided Coolant

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Cold is an illusion. Thermodynamics proves bouncing atoms create heat, while chills are only sensations. The Bucks agree, considering how Miami blazed past Milwaukee in just five games. By examining the bubble games, Deer fans can understand how the Heat gathered more focus, easily overcoming the distracted Bucks. However, LA proved that entropy dims even the brightest light. With time running out for Giannis, the Bucks organization needs to learn from the Lakers’ success to warm the cold hearts of almost-jaded fans.

Friday, July 31st: Bucks Defeat Celtics 119-112

The Bucks quickly burst to a 17-2 lead, seemingly projecting a thrilling finals run. True, Boston battled back and almost took the lead. Thankfully, a fortuitous replay saved the win. Milwaukee now needed just one win to clinch the one seed, which would allow for a cruise to the playoffs.

Saturday, August 1st: Heat Defeat Nuggets 125-105

Miami comfortably bested a Denver team without Jamal Murray, who eventually proved a magnificent player. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo both scored 22 points in a win without significant meaning. The Heat almost certainly would finish fourth or fifth, with no difference considering a lack of home-court.

Sunday, August 2nd: Rockets Defeat Bucks 120-116

Milwaukee seemingly had clinched the top seed, leading 112-104 with just 3:14 left. Unfortunately, a dynamic Rockets offense charged ahead, and a Giannis Antetokounmpo bad pass ensured a loss. There seemed little reason for concern, as late runs can doom any team.

Monday, August 3rd: Raptors Defeat Heat 107-103

Toronto led by 17 before a Heat run. Two bad passes prevented a Miami win and top-seed clinch for Milwaukee. Miami still appeared to be a modestly talented team, and Milwaukee prepared for a seemingly sure win over Brooklyn.

Tuesday, August 4th: Nets Defeat Bucks 119-116; Heat Defeat Celtics 112-106

Oops! In one of the biggest NBA upsets in the last 20 years, a decimated Brooklyn roster buried Milwaukee in the first half. However, despite Giannis sitting on the bench in the second half, a late DJ Wilson (of all Bucks) three gave the Deer the lead. Regrettably, the Nets surged back ahead. The Bucks couldn’t get a shot on the last possession, sealing the stunning loss. While the Bucks still had the top-seed almost guaranteed, concerns over inconsistent play began.

Meanwhile, despite playing without Butler, Miami led from 2:49 into the game into the final horn. With the Bucks and Heat soon to meet, nervousness entered the Bucks’ minds.

Thursday, August 6th: Bucks Defeat Heat 130-116

Miami has had success against Milwaukee in the Mike Budenholzer era, causing concern in the bubble. The Heat, even without Butler, led 73-56 at halftime. Seventy-three points in one half? The horror! Giannis, however, had enough of disappointment. The Bucks had tremendous energy in the second half while the Heat played lackadaisically. A strong finish resulted in a shockingly comfortable Bucks win. Now, the Deer could ease into the Eastern Conference playoffs. However, their soft play in the last four games proved an inferior strategy.

Saturday, August 8th: Mavericks Defeat Bucks 136-132 (OT); Suns defeat Heat 119-112

Luka Dončić and Dallas heartbreakingly made enough plays to defeat the Deer, with George Hill missing a potential winner. The loss disappointed despite its lack of seeding meaning. Meanwhile, Miami lost again while missing Butler and Goran Dragić. The path for a Bucks-Heat East Semifinal remained likely, but there was still was no reason to believe the Heat were favorites.

Monday, August 10th: Raptors Defeat Bucks 114-106; Heat defeat Pacers 114-92

Milwaukee lost another stinker with a horrible effort. The same day, Butler finally returned with 19 points while his team stifled supposed emerging-star T.J. Warren. The Heat had almost clinched at least a fifth seed, needing just one more win to eclipse Philadelphia. The Suns cooperated with a 6ers rout on Tuesday, making Miami comfortable.

Tuesday, August 11th: Bucks Defeat Wizards 126-113

While Milwaukee easily bounced lowly Washington, a Giannis ejection led to trepidation over a probable suspension. The error was especially disappointing considering the Freak’s previously clean reputation. Is he still the humble hero? Maybe not, and maybe he’s not willing to play in Milwaukee for his entire career. For the first time, Bucks fans considerably fretted about the future beyond 2020.

Wednesday, August 12th: Thunder Defeat Heat 116-115

Mike Muscala’s three with 5.2 seconds left completed a 22-point fourth-quarter OKC comeback. Fans and experts questioned Miami’s ability to complete games, and the loss foreshadowed troubles in the playoffs in a future final minute.

Thursday, August 13th: Grizzlies Defeat Bucks 119-106

Coach Bud elected to rest starters as Milwaukee conceded the game to a desperate Memphis team. Scribes often talk about an intensity switch, and Bud believed the Bucks would flip it against #8 Orlando. Shockingly, the light had almost burnt out.

Friday, August 14th: Pacers Defeat Heat 109-92

Miami didn’t show its hand against its guaranteed first-round opponent. The only note needed is Derrick Jones Jr.’s horrific injury, requiring a cart-off. Analysts nearly-unanimously predicted a Heat triumph over Indiana in the first round, but a win is not just a win in the playoffs. Style points matter, and Erik Spoelstra planned on triumphing dominantly.

Bucks-Magic: Bucks in Five

In game one, Orlando buried the sleepy Bucks 122-110. Milwaukee easily turned the fright into a gentlemen’s sweep despite a near-forfeit. Game three especially reinforced confidence, as the Deer burst to a tremendous early lead and held on without undue difficulty.

Miami had already swept Indiana. The Bucks inhaled: their next foe presented a more formidable challenge.

Pacers-Heat: Heat in Four

Indiana’s Nate McMillan continued his talent of keeping four playoff games close while losing each one. The listless Pacers could never make the needed fourth-quarter plays, and the Heat overcame their late-game troubles with a confident closeout.

Fans believed the Heat had more momentum entering the Milwaukee series. If the Bucks could finally shake off their lethargy, they could foil that narrative.

Bucks-Heat: Heat In Five

There’s no need for Bucks Lead to go too deep into this series; we all watched the horror film. Primarily consider, however, the tone-setting game one. The Bucks burst to a 40-29 lead after the first quarter, but sadly, they again wandered mentally. Behind Butler’s 40 points, Miami surged ahead. However, the Bucks had one last chance. With 58.3 seconds left and the Bucks down 111-104, the ball bounced off Butler’s fingertips and out-of-bounds. Frustratingly, Giannis lazily lost control of the sphere, and the Heat closed out the game from the line. After Butler’s walk-off free throws in game two, the Bucks were too far behind to win the series.

Although the 2020-2021 offseason brings uncertainty, the Lakers demonstrated how Milwaukee can defeat a vincible Heat franchise with the right roster moves.

Lakers’ Blueprint

#1: LA had LeBron James, and Miami didn’t. Besides that effortlessly observed point, how did the Lakers finally send the Heat to the freezer? Consider one word: run. Yes, basketball involves much running. Something is intimidating, however, about a team run. Statistically, the longer a point-streak goes, the less likely it is to continue. It’s vital, then, for a team to defy the odds and make an early run anyway. LA trailed very early in game one, before a 55-25 blitz.

Despite valiant Heat efforts to win games three and five, James and Anthony Davis determined to conclude the season with strength. Game six, fittingly, was a laugh for everyone outside Florida. A discouraged Heat team fell behind by 64-36 at halftime and trailed by 36 at one point. What can the Bucks learn if the squads meet in 2021?

Rebounding In Contract Year

First, clinching home-court again, if fans are allowed, would be a sizable advantage. Officials probably wouldn’t have called the game-two Giannis foul in Milwaukee. (It’s true: stats prove refs are homers.) Although research generally contradicts the thought, the Bucks seem to play with much more energy at the Forum. Coach Bud, despite the 2019 failure, thinks that a 2-0 lead discourages opponents. The Lakers demonstrated that Miami eventually tires. The Bucks must strike quickly, like the semifinal game one, and next time not relent. With a bubble not likely next season, Milwaukee can avoid strange disruptions. Cold, yes, is just an illusion. However, when Milwaukee finally bests the Heat, this fact will provide little comfort to the tearful Heat as the Bucks warmly march closer to the long-awaited Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Stats Courtesy NBA.com. Follow us on Twitter @BucksLead for the latest Bucks news and insight.

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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