Who am I to complain? The Miami Heat are playing the exact brand of basketball that’s going to hurt, and hurt badly, when there isn’t a significant enough run to comeback or when the opponent is better than the 38-44 Milwaukee Bucks.
But who am I to complain when the Heat are now a game away from their first sweep in the ‘Big Three’ era following their 104-91. For the third time in as many games, the Heat flirted with the Bucks a little too long before actually sealing the deal.
A 13-point Miami Heat victory was a ten-point Bucks lead late in the first quarter. At one point, the Bucks were up by eight with less than a minute remaining in the first half.
It was expected. The Bucks weren’t going to go down without a fight, which you should already know judging from the first two meetings. They hit their shots, got in the passing lane, and made Miami’s offense as inefficient as possible.
Plus, they had the crowd behind them, even if the stadium was half-full.
But like all of the Bucks hopes and dreams going into this series, this game went up in flames quick. Milwaukee witnessed two runs, one that brought Miami into it and a later one that gave Miami the lead for good, and there was nothing they could do but watch.
The Bucks were plenty aware of the Heat using runs to emerge victorious in the first two games. The only problem is talking is a lot easier than executing, evidenced by Miami’s 8-2 run to close the first half and their 8-0 run to end the third quarter that essentially put an end to it.
Milwaukee didn’t convert a field-goal from the 3:29 mark of the third quarter to the 10:19 mark of the fourth. By then, Miami’s former two-point lead had ballooned to 14.
Naturally, LeBron James had a lot to do with aforementioned runs. Before finishing with 22 points on 14 shots, six assists and five rebounds, he would hit a 20-foot buzzer-beater to end the half to get the Heat within two and score four points during Miami’s run to end the half.
Once again, the bench came through in a big way. Namely, Norris Cole, Chris Andersen and Ray Allen.
Allen, who finished with a game-high 23 points, hit consecutive threes within 17 seconds of each other to facilitate the Heat’s team to run end the first half.
Andersen, 11 points on 5/5 shooting to go with six rebounds, scored four points in the 8-0 run that gave Miami a ten-point lead heading into the fourth.
Cole, 7 points, 4 assists and 3 steals, had five consecutive points to start the fourth.
And before we knew it, the Heat, down by 30-21 after one quarter, had blown out the Bucks for a third consecutive game.
The Heat have been sluggish and lackadaisical during stretches through the series and it’s allowed the Bucks to hang around. Milwaukee was within single-digits late in the third quarter of Game 1 and was only down three heading into the fourth in Game 2.
Milwaukee had a six-point lead with 7:14 left in the third, only to see Miami end the quarter on a 23-7 run.
Chris Bosh played a heavy role in Miami’s second half surge. Held to only four first half points on 1-for-6 shooting, Bosh would score 12 points in the final 24, including six in the fourth.
He also finished with a game-high 14 rebounds.
Dwyane Wade had one of the more peculiar statlines of his career, finishing with four points, nine rebounds (six offensive), 11 assists and five steals. The 1-of-12 he shot represented the lowest field-goal percentage of his postseason career.
Like a veteran superstar would do in the situation when their shot isn’t falling, Wade made his impact felt at every facet of the game. He filled up the stat sheet, while holding Monta Ellis to seven points on nine shots, forcing him into six three-point attempts.
It’s the second consecutive game where Ellis has scored less than ten points. The numbers he’s posted in those two games are consistent with his struggles against Miami in the regular season, where he averaged nine points on 30 percent shooting.
Milwaukee was led by Larry Sanders’ 16 points and 11 rebounds. Brandon Jennings struggled with his shot for a second straight game, scoring 16 points on 15 shots, but contributed eight assists, five rebounds and five steals.
While the Bucks struggled from the perimeter, converting only 27 percent of their 26 three-point attempts, Miami broke out a two-game slump by shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc.
Ray Allen broke Reggie Miller’s record for postseason three-pointers after his fourth three-pointer of the night. He shot 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Playoff Ray has been fun so far. This is his second game scoring at least 20 points and his third consecutive with at least two three-pointers.
Evoking memories of former postseason runs, the Heat’s bench has played a big role and have taken off the heavy burden of the ‘Big Three’.
Miami plays Game 4 Sunday. They’ll face the winner of the Bulls-Nets (2-1 Chicago) series with a win.