In what was another tough night for Milwaukee, the 5-seed Miami Heat won game 3 115-100 to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series. Despite being the best team during the regular season, the Bucks now have to do something that has never been done in NBA history to advance to the conference finals. All time, teams that have gone down 3-0 in a series are 0-139. Without high expectations going into this year, the Heat are now just one win away from reaching their first conference final since 2014.
In what has become a theme in this series, Jimmy Butler stepped up late in this one to propel the Heat offense. He became more aggressive on offense, just like game 1, and finished with 30, 7 and 6 for Miami. He did not shy away from the DPOY, going straight at Giannis down the stretch to keep Miami ahead. He helped the Heat outscore the Bucks 40-13 in the 4th to steal this win.
Throughout the game, it was clear that Giannis is not at 100%. He was grimacing after a few drives to the rim, and was favoring his ankle a few times just walking to the bench. It will be interesting to see how he can play in game 4, as the Bucks need their superstar to mount this historic comeback.
As the game went on, it was very apparent that only 3 Bucks players are fully engaged in this series. Apart from Giannis, Middleton and Lopez, it seems as if their entire team is lost, and would rather not have the ball in their hands at all. This makes it extremely difficult for these 3 guys to create anything, as the defense does not respect the rest of the Bucks roster.
For Miami, through their 7 playoff games their role players have been very effective. Dragic has had a few big scoring nights already, as have Crowder and Herro. Robinson attracts so much attention as a shooter, and makes his open looks. Bam is a future star, playing elite defense on Giannis and going to work at the other end as well. He finished with 20 and 16 in this one.
As the Heat are one game away from the conference finals, it is interesting to look back at where Butler has been in recent years. He was critical of the young guys in Minnesota and Philadelphia, and neither team ended up reaching their lofty expectations. When he signed in Miami, it seemed like a good fit, but it would have been difficult to predict this much success for their team going into this season.