The Miami Heat are advancing to the Eastern conference finals after a 4-1 Series victory over the top seed, Milwaukee Bucks. Not many predicted Miami to win 4 of 5 games coming into the series. The Bucks were the top seeded team in the east, and after a fairly clean performance against the Magic in round one, most expected a hard fought battle against Miami.
Before the injury to Giannis, the Heat used lengthy defenders in Bam Adebayo and Jae Crowder to match up with him; and they did very well. Crowded and Bam did especially well in game one holding Giannis to 18 points. The Heat were aided by great performances from Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro. Unfortunately, early in game 3 Giannis injured his ankle and struggled throughout the game, with his explosiveness just not being the same. Jimmy Butler was able to contain Middleton, and another solid performance from Butler who put up 30 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists was all the Heat needed to take the dominating 3-0 lead.
Playing on an injured ankle, Giannis was off to a dominating start with 20 points in the first quarter, but again he injured his ankle leaving late in the first and not returning. Solid games from Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson were negated by a dominant performance from Khris Middleton, that was nowhere to be found earlier in the series. The strong performance forced a game 5 for Milwaukee, where once again, the Heat were able to shut down Middleton and hold him to 32% shooting on the night. Solid performances all around for Miami with 6 players scoring in double figures on the night combined with a great defensive effort on Middleton was all Miami needed to punch their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Looking ahead for Miami, they are going to have a battle with either the defending champs in Toronto, or a solid squad in Boston. The Heat have the length to match up with Tatum or Pascal Siakim, with Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr., Jimmy Butler and even Bam Adebayo. Miami’s weakness is in the backcourt. Will they have enough defense from guards to defend the likes of Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart, or Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet? Improved play from Tyler Herro was seen in the last series and Goran Dragic is playing some of the best basketball of his life, so there is potential for Miami, they just need to capitalize. It will be interesting to see what Miami does defensively against the tandem of guards that will be heading at them, if Miami can contain them, a trip to the finals is not out of the cards.