Milwaukee Bucks 121, Orlando Magic 106 — The big knock on the Bucks so far in the restart and the playoffs is that they just don’t seem motivated to play like the team with the best record in the league this season. For three quarters on Monday, that seemed like the case again as even as they neared a 10 point lead in the third quarter, they still let the Magic take the lead back on four different occasions in the frame.
It seemed that the fourth quarter was going to change this. After the final period started with Milwaukee holding an 84-81 lead, they immediately went on a 18-2 run to start the quarter and take a 19 point lead with 8:12 to play. Well, that’s exactly what you’d like to see, isn’t it?
And yet, as we approached four minutes to play, Sasha Vucevic twice cut the lead to just seven points, first at 107-100 and then again at 109-102. Milwaukee was able to close on a strong note as evidenced by that 15 point final margin, but blowing 12 points of their maximum lead in just four minutes of game time isn’t exactly good, either.
A pair of double-doubles from both Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for Milwaukee as they advanced the series to a 3-1 lead in their favor. Giannis was particularly great, finishing with 31 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists while “only” going 14-for-21 from the field. OUR GUY~! Wesley Matthews gave Milwaukee 12 points, all on long range attempts, and also added two rebounds and three assists to the win.
Miami Heat 99, Indiana Pacers 87 — This has a real 2000s era NBA feel to the score, doesn’t it? Anyway, Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder are on to the second round as the #5 seeded Heat “upset” the #4 seeded Pacers by sweeping them in four games after winning this one.
While Miami’s series win was definitive, their victory in this precise set of 48 minutes wasn’t exactly the same. Indiana controlled most of the first half, and even after the Heat made a big swing in the middle of the second quarter, it was still only a 48-42 Miami lead at the half.
The third quarter would see the Heat build their largest lead of the game as Butler converted a pair of free throws with 7:51 to go to put Miami out in front by 13, 60-47. Indiana was still able to turn it into a two possession game late in the period before a last second layup by Goran Dragic while following his own miss gave the Heat a 70-62 lead with 12 minutes to play.
Miami would have control of the game the rest of the way, but they never quite put a nail in Indiana’s coffin, not until very late. Their last gasp came when T.J. Warren got Butler to foul him on a long rage attempt. Warren made the shot and then tacked on the freebie to pull within six at 91-85 with 3:36 to go. Fortunately for us Heat favoring fans, Indiana wouldn’t score again until there were less than two minutes to go, and those free throws from Victor Oladipo only made it a six point game again. Miami closed the door from there, and now they wait to see who comes in the second round........
Up Next: .... and as luck would have it, it will be whoever wins the Milwaukee/Orlando series. That one continues on Wednesday afternoon, when NBA TV gets the 3pm Central time tipoff for what could be a decisive Game #5.