Game Preview: Bucks vs. Heat (Game 2)
NBA fans all around the world are in for a treat with this series between the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks. After a back and forth Game 1, the Heat emerged victorious 115-104. The Heat’s Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 40 points while Goran Dragic chipped in 27. The big storyline aside from Butler was the team’s defense. A variety of Heat players, most notably Jae Crowder, were able to hold Giannis Antetokounmpo to just 18 points and six made field goals in 37 minutes of action.
Heading into Game 2, the main question the Bucks will have to answer is how do they plan to stop Butler? Antetokounmpo was asked many questions postgame about why he didn’t guard Butler down the stretch after being named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year last week. Antetokounmpo responded angrily, “Why would you ask that? I’ll do whatever coach wants me to do.” Antetokounmpo didn’t like the fans questioning his desire to win and he made that very clear. With Antetokounmpo having full faith in head coach Mike Budenholzer, it’s up to the coaching staff to figure out what the team is going to do to stop Butler.
Something to keep an eye on before the game is the status of Eric Bledsoe. The Bucks’ starting point guard was a late scratch before Game 1 with a hamstring injury. Bledsoe should be ready to go and will provide a much-needed boost for the Bucks in Game 2. One glaring positive for Milwaukee that must continue is the play of Khris Middleton. Middleton struggled in the Bucks’ first round matchup against the Magic but got off to a hot start against the Heat. The 29-year-old shot 50% from the floor and finished with 28 points, six rebounds and five assists. Middleton needs to keep up that level of play for the Bucks to regain momentum in the series.
For the Heat, Butler must continue to play like a superstar. The Heat signed Butler this past offseason in hopes to get what they saw from him in Game 1 on a regular basis. Butler was a leader on both ends of the floor and kept the Heat in the game when they were down early and closed the game for them in the end. However, it’s unlikely that Butler will put up 40 points a game for the rest of the series. But that's where the Heat’s depth comes in.
Miami had seven players average over 10 points per game in the regular season and have a handful of players who can put up at least 25 points a night. The Heat will need multiple guys to step up on the offensive end each game because sooner or later, it’s going to become harder to slow down and contain Antetokounmpo. Look for Miami to continue to move the ball around and shoot more threes than usual to keep the pressure on Milwaukee.
Game 2 will hold a lot of implications on how the rest of the series pans out, and just may decide who will come out on top when it's all said and done. The Bucks dropped Game 1 in the first round and came back strong, winning four straight games in dominant fashion. However, the Heat are a much superior team compared to the Magic and have yet to lose a game in the playoffs. It will be tough for Milwaukee to climb back if they fall into a 2-0 deficit against the red-hot Heat. However with a Bucks win, all of the pressure is placed back on Miami.
Charlie Knezevic is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.