There was numerous anticipation heading into the Milwaukee Bucks’ playoff opener on Saturday afternoon.
The Bucks hadn’t hosted a playoff sport at Fiserv Discussion board in nearly two years – their final house playoff sport was Might 23, 2019, after they misplaced Recreation 5 of the Japanese Convention finals to the Toronto Raptors. The Bucks had been additionally going through the Miami Warmth, the opponent that knocked out Milwaukee within the second spherical of final yr’s playoffs within the NBA bubble.
Throw in that Milwaukee allowed 50% fan capability on the area for the primary time this season, and the vitality reached a fever pitch.
That buildup paid off for Bucks followers when Khris Middleton nailed a jumper with half a second left in time beyond regulation to ship Milwaukee to a 109-107 over Miami in a tense Recreation 1 of their first-round sequence.
🚨 MIDDLETON WINS IT FOR MILWAUKEE! 🚨
— NBA (@NBA) May 22, 2021
The roar emanating from the 9,107 followers after the buzzer was a very long time coming.
“It was positively nice to listen to and really feel the gang in there,” Middleton mentioned.
Middleton led the Bucks with 27 factors and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 26 on 10-for-27 capturing to associate with 18 rebounds.
Each groups got here out sloppy after nearly per week off because the finish of the common season, combining for seven turnovers and 8-for-20 capturing within the first 5 minutes.
However the sport settled right into a back-and-forth affair down the stretch, displaying why NBA pundits pointed to this sequence as one to look at within the Japanese Convention.
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“There’s simply numerous vitality,” Bucks middle Brook Lopez mentioned. “I believe everybody’s going on the market eager to really feel it.”
Warmth sharpshooter Duncan Robinson, who had a quiet sequence towards the Bucks final season, was a shiny spot for the Warmth. He made his first three 3-pointers to offer Miami a 9-2 lead. He completed with 24 factors, with all his discipline targets coming from past the 3-point line.
The Bucks missed their first eight makes an attempt from lengthy distance earlier than Lopez nailed one. Milwaukee was simply 5 for 31 (16%) on 3-pointers.
“We don’t want threes to win,” Bucks guard Jrue Vacation mentioned. “We perform a little little bit of the whole lot. We do numerous different issues.”
Vacation stuffed the field rating with 20 factors, 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals. The 6-foot-3 guard’s versatile presence is the largest distinction for the Bucks from final season’s matchup with the Warmth.
Vacation spearheaded a robust defensive effort. The Bucks made it particularly powerful for Warmth stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, who mixed to shoot 8 for 37.
“Displaying crowds,” Middleton mentioned. “Contesting each shot. Attempting to not foul. That’s what you need to do with these guys, they’re so nice.
Butler was simply 3 for 18 when he hit the game-tying basket simply earlier than the regulation buzzer, getting round Antetokounmpo to bounce a operating shot off the glass.
— NBA (@NBA) May 22, 2021
“The ball’s going be in his arms quite a bit,” Antetokounmpo mentioned. “Going to make quite a bit performs. Going to shoot quite a bit. He attracts numerous consideration and you bought to be able to go towards him.”
Neither group might acquire separation in time beyond regulation, till Lopez sank a free throw and Vacation chased down an extended rebound and sprinted out for a layup that gave the Bucks a 107-104 lead with 39.3 seconds left.
However Miami’s Goran Dragic hit a 3-pointer because the shot clock ticked down, setting the stage for Middleton’s heroics as Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer opted to not use a timeout with 20.8 seconds remaining.
After getting a defensive swap, Middleton hit a tricky, 19-foot fadeaway over Robinson. Butler could not get off a shot on Miami’s possession, sending the Bucks followers at Fiserv Discussion board house ecstatic.
“To have Recreation 1 on our court docket in entrance of our folks and really feel their vitality, it was actually, actually nice to see,” Budenholzer mentioned. ” A giant step towards normalcy for our league and for our group. Hopefully we will simply proceed in that route.”
This text initially appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Khris Middleton’s last-second shot in OT gives Bucks thrilling win over Heat as NBA playoffs begin