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Even without the services of reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for most of Game 4 because of an ankle injury, the No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks were able to stave off elimination Sunday afternoon against the fifth-seeded Miami Heat. Antetokounmpo originally injured his right ankle in Game 3 of the series and played just 11 minutes before re-injuring it in Game 4.
While one would think that the loss of Antetokounmpo would be disastrous for the Bucks, that wasn’t the case. When Antetokounmpo went down, other members of Milwaukee were ready to step up, including Khris Middleton, who led the team with 36 points on Sunday. With their season on the line, the short-handed Bucks didn’t give up. They fought hard and took the Heat to overtime, where they pulled out a crucial 118-115 win.
For the Heat, Game 4 was a major missed opportunity as they failed to capitalize on the Bucks were without their best player for most of the game. But while the Bucks were able to avoid elimination for an evening — and getting swept — they still face an uphill battle trailing 3-1 in the series. Plus, Antetokounmpo’s status moving forward is not known at this time. His health will be the key factor in the rest of the series. That said, here’s everything you need to know about Game 5 between the Bucks and Heat.
Date: Tuesday, Sept. 8 | Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Disney Wide World of Sports — Orlando, Florida
Odds: Heat -3.5 | Over/Under: 216 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
Bucks: With Milwaukee facing elimination and Giannis sidelined with an ankle injury, Middleton had his best game of the series, by far, for the Bucks. Middleton finished Game 4 with 36 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, and all of that production was desperately needed in order for the Bucks to extend their season. Most importantly, Middleton was extremely aggressive — something that Bucks fans have been calling for from him all series. When Middleton is active — rather than passive — and in attack mode, the Bucks become that much more difficult to beat, and that was certainly the case on Sunday. Moving forward, the Bucks will need Middleton to continue to be ultra-aggressive like he was in Game 4, regardless if Giannis is available to return to the series or not. If he is able to sustain the level of aggression on the offensive end that he showed in their win, the Bucks will have a chance to continue climbing back into the series.
Heat: Miami is certainly not the first team to let up a bit after taking a large lead in a series. However, it will need to step up its overall effort a bit in Game 5 in order to close out the series and get back to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2014 — when they were led by a trio of superstars in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The longer Miami lets Milwaukee hang around in the series, the more confident that it’ll get as a team and the tougher it’ll be to eliminate. As a coach with ample postseason experience, Erik Spoelstra is well aware of how important it is to take care of business and close out series in the postseason. Expect him to consistently preach that message to his team leading up to Game 5.
The Bucks deserve a lot of credit for fighting hard in Game 4 and extending the series, but they dug themselves too big of a hole by falling behind 3-0 initially. The Heat have shown to be the better team over the course of the series, and no team in NBA history has ever come back after being down 3-0. Add in the fact that Antetokounmpo’s status for the game is not known, and even if he does play he could be hobbled a bit. There’s just too many factors working against the Bucks. Pick: Heat -3.5
The Miami Heat look to clinch the series over the Milwaukee Bucks in game five of the Eastern Conference second round. The Bucks won the last matchup 118-115. Khris Middleton scored 36 points to lead Milwaukee to the victory and Bam Adebayo recorded 26 points in the loss for Miami.
The Bucks have gone 37-7 against Eastern Conference teams. Milwaukee is the best team in the Eastern Conference with 18 fast break points led by Giannis Antetokounmpo averaging 6.
The Heat are 30-13 in Eastern Conference play. Miami is second in the Eastern Conference with 25.9 assists per game led by Jimmy Butler averaging 6.0.
Middleton is averaging 20.9 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Bucks. Brook Lopez is averaging 16.2 points over the last 10 games for Milwaukee.
Duncan Robinson leads the Heat averaging 3.7 made 3-pointers, while scoring 13.5 points per game and shooting 44.6% from beyond the arc. Goran Dragic is averaging 18.9 points and 4.6 assists over the last 10 games for Miami.
DURING THE PLAYOFFS
Bucks: Averaging 113 points, 47.3 rebounds, 24.8 assists, 7.2 steals and 4.1 blocks per game while shooting 47.2% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 110.7 points on 43.4% shooting.
Heat: Averaging 113.3 points, 44.5 rebounds, 24.9 assists, 8.2 steals and 3.8 blocks per game while shooting 45.9% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 104.9 points on 45.7% shooting
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