5 Things We Learned: Bucks vs. Heat
The Miami Heat defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals 103-94.
The win punches a ticket for the fifth-seeded Heat to face the winner of the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. Milwaukee, the first overall seed in the NBA playoffs, came up short yet again in its attempt for a championship run.
Let’s take a look at five things we’ve learned from this upset.
1. Miami has depth.
The reason for Miami’s success revolves around the depth of their team. Miami is led by guard Jimmy Butler, with a supporting cast of rookie Tyler Herro, first-time All-Star Bam Adebayo, and veteran Jae Crowder. These core pieces, though just a small part of the Miami’s culture, have led them to success.
Fans have debated whether Jimmy Butler could lead Miami to glory due to his antics with former teams, most notably the Minnesota Timberwolves. This series has put that debate to rest.
The chemistry of the Heat is the main reason for their success, with head coach Eric Spoelstra and President Pat Riley at the helm. Spolestra and Riley have created a culture driven by communication and motivation. Because of this, Miami now has a legitimate shot at a championship.
Over the course of the series, six players averaged over 10 points per game. According to ESPN, the team shot around 45 percent from the field and 35 percent from the 3-point line. Miami averaged 120.8 points per game, while allowing Milwaukee to score just 106 points per game.
In Game 5, Miami’s bench scored 38 points, outscoring Milwaukee's second unit by 19.
2. Miami can cover the spread.
The recent success of Miami has aided many bettors. In four out of five tries, Miami covered the spread against Milwaukee, despite being listed as the underdog in three of these games.
The first three games had the Heat at +5.0, with the last two games having them as the favorites. The Heat have shown that they are not only a dark horse candidate for the NBA Finals, but a reliable pick in the sportsbook.
3. Milwaukee needs more pieces to win a championship
As for Milwaukee, it showed that it needs more help for 2019 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to commit to the team long-term. Antetokounmpo’s current contract ends at the conclusion of the 2020-2021 season, making him an unrestricted free agent. In order to keep its franchise player, Milwaukee needs to bring in another asset to aid Antetokounmpo.
Milwaukee does, however, have an All-Star in Khris Middleton, who averaged 25.6 points per game in the series. But the Bucks’ bench, on the other hand, provided no help in this series. Only Milwaukee’s starters averaged more than 10 points per game for the series.
In order for the Bucks to finally win the NBA championship that they desperately yearn for, the front office has to bring in more pieces to fill in the valuable minutes when its starters are off the court.
4. Don’t count out the Heat
In Game 5, the Bucks found a groove and got going, as Miami looked sloppy. Despite not having Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee united and ended the first quarter with a 28-19 lead.
Miami then buckled down and got to business, going on a 13-2 run while hitting three consecutive 3-pointers to start the second quarter. In the third quarter, Miami shut down the Bucks offense, keeping them scoreless for six and a half minutes.
Milwaukee did make a run, but the Heat’s depth helped in maintaining their lead. Herro made huge 3-pointers, along with a beautiful pass to Andre Iguodala for a dunk, to keep the distance from Milwaukee.
5. Free throws matter
In basketball, free throws are basically free points. Making shots from the charity stripe is crucial, considering how close the games were in this series.
The Heat had the upper hand in this category as well. In four of the five games, the Heat had a better free throw percentage than the Bucks. In Game 1, Miami shot 92.6 percent at the line to Milwaukee’s 53.8 percent.
In Game 5, Miami only missed two free throws, while the Bucks had missed seven. Those free points added up later in the game and made the difference for Miami.
Miami ran away with this series from the beginning. The Heat now head to the Eastern Conference Finals with an 8-1 record in the playoffs. As for the Bucks, they need to regroup and worry about Antetokounmpo’s expiring contract.
For Antetokounmpo to sign an extension next year, a championship run is necessary.
Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.