Heat, Butler’s consistent intensity close out GM 1 over Bucks 115-104

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Miami Heat’s Jae Crowder (99) and Jimmy Butler (22) celebrate their 104-115 win against the Milwaukee Bucks during an NBA basketball conference semifinal playoff game, Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(WFRV) – After a week off, Jimmy Butler scored a playoff career-high 40 points and took over in the fourth quarter to lead the Miami Heat over Milwaukee 115-104 on Monday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  

“Mostly credit to Jimmy. I thought he hit several tough shots,” said Bucks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer. “He’s capable, he made them. But overall, of course our defense can be better. He was just making tough shots.”

After scoring 40 points in first quarter, the most all season in a first quarter, the Bucks let their foot off the gas big time.

Milwaukee Bucks’ Brook Lopez (11) watches his shot sink as Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and the Miami Heat’s Andre Iguodala (28) look on during the second half of an NBA basketball conference semifinal playoff game, Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Milwaukee had 11 turnovers in the first half which led to 17 Miami points off turnovers and set the tone for the rest of the game. 

“The picked up their pressure and that’s what great teams do in the playoffs,” said Khris Middleton. 

Middleton had it going offensively and dropped 21 points heading into halftime. Which matched the most points he has had in a game all playoffs. 

Middleton finished with a team-high 28 points on 50% shooting. Brook Lopez added some offense and scored 19 of his 24 points in the first half. 

But reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had serious struggles at the free throw line the entire game, 4-of-12, and posted 18 points 10 rebounds and 9 assists. 

“He’ll get in the gym and work on his routine,” said Budenholzer on how Giannis will respond to poor free throw shooting. “He puts a ton of time in and believes in himself.” 

Antetokounmpo just had 12 shot attempts in 37 minutes of play. 

“Would I want to be more aggressive…obviously,” said Antetokounmpo. “But I am just trying to make the right play and that was my mindset the whole game. Win or lose, you got to live it.” 

The two telling stats for the game were free throws and points in the paint. The Bucks shot 14-of-26 (45%) from the foul line and were outscored in the paint 42-24. 

Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler dunks the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball conference semifinal playoff game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Usually, it’s the other way around. 

But Miami’s Goran Dragic carved up the Bucks defense and had 27 points and five assists. Bam Adebayo scored 12 points and grabbed a mean 17 rebounds. 

“They work hard defensively, and we got to be better around Giannis. Execute better and make a few more plays. Credit to them, we have to be better on the boards and in the paint,” said Budenholzer. 

The Bucks had a steady shooting night as a team, 49% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc. 

“We’re never going to lose that confidence,” said Middleton. “We were down 0-1 against Orlando and to Boston last year. It’s a long series.” 

After a monster first game from Butler, Giannis and the Bucks will look to bounce back on Wednesday for Game 2 at 5:30 C.T. 

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