Heat’s OT series-ending win over the Bucks: Five Key Highlights

April 27, 2023

The Miami Heat began the game with three chances to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat just required one. 


For the second game in a line, the eighth-seeded Heat recovered from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the top-seeded Bucks 128-126 in Game 5 on Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum. 


Even though guards Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo got injured early in the series, the Heat obtained the best-of-7 first-round series 4-1 to become only the sixth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the 1st round of the playoffs since the present 16-team NBA playoff format was put in place in 1983-84.


The Heat will play the New York Knicks in the second round of the playoffs at Madison Square Garden on Sunday at 1 p.m.


“We’ve never been an 8 seed with a chance to win,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We wanted to take advantage of this chance and opportunity.” It’s been a terrifying two and a half weeks. But our guys earned their ice time tonight.”


It was surprising that Wednesday’s game even proceeded to overtime after the Heat entered the fourth quarter behind by 16 points. However, the Heat opened the fourth period on a 27-11 run, aided by a superior defensive effort, to scratch the deficit and tie the game with 1:41 remaining in regulation. 


That’s when the drama started. 


The Heat’s revival appeared to be in jeopardy after the Bucks took a four-point lead with 14 seconds remaining.


But the Miami Heat wouldn’t go away, as guard Gabe Vincent sank a three-pointer with 8.4 seconds left to trim the margin to one. 


The Bucks’ next possession was clumsy, as Khris Middleton lost the ball while attempting to get it up the floor. The play was first called a foul on Heat guard Kyle Lowry, but HC Spoelstra’s successful challenge resulted in a jump ball with six seconds remaining because no team owned the ball at the time of the foul call, which was later overturned. 


With 2.1 seconds left, the Bucks won the jump ball, and Holiday was fouled. However, Holiday only sank one of two free throws to extend Milwaukee’s advantage to two points.


With 0.5 seconds left in regulation, Jimmy Butler made another great play for the Heat to send the game to overtime, grabbing a wonderfully placed inbounds lob pass from Vincent at the basket to make a tough game-tying layup as he tumbled down to the court. It reminded me of when Butler won a game with an alley-oop dunk off an inbound pass from Vincent against the Houston Rockets on February 10. 


“I had numerous variations of it, and [Jimmy Butler] looked me dead in the eye,” HC Spoelstra said of the match call after regulation on Wednesday. “We practiced a variation of that play with many different guys, and I planned on doing a different version.” He stated, ‘No, let me be that guy.’ And I just said, ‘OK, but what if we can’t obtain that pass?’ ‘I’ll grab it,’ he said. ‘Don’t be concerned.'” 


The Miami Heat made the most of their second chance, outscoring the Bucks 10-8 in overtime to secure the comeback win after trailing by 16 points in the fourth quarter. It’s the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in NBA history in a series-clinching game.


Butler again led the way for the Heat, finishing with 42 pts, eight rebounds, and four assists. 


Vincent had 22 points and six assists. 


“It just shows that we’re a resilient group,” Butler said of the Heat’s first-round shock following a rocky regular season. “We stick together through it all.” I’ve bummed Tyler, and Vic aren’t here to celebrate with us. But they remained with us in spirit.” 


The following are five key highlights from the Heat’s series-clinching win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday: 


How did Butler follow up his 56-point performance in Game 4? With yet another outstanding performance, the Heat advanced to the second round.


Butler missed his first field goal attempt and the first two free throws of the game, but he stayed aggressive in the first quarter, finishing with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field and 1-of-4 from three-point range. 


However, Butler was quiet in the second quarter, scoring just five points on three field goal attempts. 


Butler had 16 points at halftime on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, 1-of-4 three-point shooting, 3-of-6 foul shooting, three rebounds, and three assists.


Butler saved his best for last, scoring 26 points in the second half and overtime on 11-of-19 shooting, including the game-tying layup at the end of regulation. 


Butler led the Heat’s fourth-quarter rally again, scoring 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting in the final 7:35 of regulation. In overtime, he scored two points. 


Butler’s Game 5 performance followed after an outstanding first-round performance in which he averaged 37.6 pts, six rebs, 4.8 assists, and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 59.7 % from the field and 12 of 27 (44.4 %) from three-point range.


Butler scored 98 points in the series’ final two games to help the Bucks lose. Only three other players in NBA history (Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Michael Jordan) have scored more points in a two-game span than Butler. 


“I’ve already expressed my feelings regarding Jimmy. “He is us, and we are him,” stated Spoelstra. “I just admire him for being such a one-of-a-kind world-class elite competitor.” In this league, there are a lot of players that play basketball, and he competes to win.” 


Heat center Bam Adebayo’s hamstring ailment is bugging him, but he is fighting it.


Adebayo finished the game with 20 points on 8-of-20 shooting from the field. He recorded a triple-double with ten rebounds and ten assists. 


Adebayo is the only Heat player in franchise history to have a 20-point triple-double in a playoff game, joining LeBron James and Butler. 


Adebayo struggled in the opening three quarters, shooting 2 of 8 from the floor and grabbing two rebounds. But he finished strong, scoring 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting and grabbing eight boards in the fourth quarter and OT.


“He just came through for us when we needed him the most, and I think that says it all about him,” said Spoelstra of Adebayo. 


Before Game 5, Adebayo stated that he had gotten “constant treatment, 24 hours” to ensure he could play despite his injured left hamstring. Despite being listed as injured, he competed in Games 4 and 5. 


Adebayo said Wednesday morning, “I’m in the treatment room three or four times a day just making sure I’m healthy enough to play and keep playing.” 


But Adebayo is visibly uncomfortable, repeatedly holding his left hamstring throughout Game 5.


In the first-round series, Adebayo scored 17.4 pts per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the field, a decrease from his regular-season output of 20.4 pts per game on 54 percent shooting from the field. 


Adebayo sometimes struggled to make shots in the first round but found other ways to contribute, particularly on defense. In the series, the Heat outscored the Bucks by 7.8 pts per 100 possessions with Adebayo on the court. 


During the Heat’s fourth-quarter comeback, the defense was outstanding. 


The Bucks’ offense clicked through the first three quarters, with 102 pts on 56.1 % shooting from the field and 12 of 25 (48 %) from three-point range entering the fourth. Milwaukee’s main flaw was that it was only 16 of 25 (64 %) from the foul line after three quarters.


The Heat’s defense stepped up a gear in the fourth quarter, holding the Bucks to 16 points on 3-of-19 (15.8 percent) shooting and forcing six turnovers. 


Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 38 points, but the Heat slowed him down late in the game. Antetokounmpo, who missed Game 2 and also the Game 3 of the series due to a back issue, scored four points in the fourth quarter on 1-of-9 shooting. 


Then Milwaukee Bucks scored just two paint points in the fourth quarter after scoring 42 points in the first three quarters. 


“Just a lot of tough plays,” HC Spoelstra said on Wednesday of the Heat’s late-game defense.


 The Heat will get a few days free before the start of the second round. 


The Heat will face the Knicks in the second round of the playoffs on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ABC.


The teams will play in New York on Sunday and Tuesday before taking a break until Game 3 in Miami next Saturday. 


Game 4 is scheduled for Monday, May 8, in Miami. 


If necessary, Game 5 would be held on May 10 in New York, with Game 6 in Miami on May 12. Game 7 will be held on Monday, May 15, in New York if necessary. 


The Heat and Knicks have a history together. 


On Wednesday, the fifth-seeded Knicks triumphed in their first-round playoff series against the fourth-seeded Cavaliers 4-1. The Heat fell to the Knicks 3-1 in the regular season. 


The upcoming Heat-Knicks matchup brings back memories of how their rivalry began. The Heat and Knicks have met five times in the postseason, including four straight years in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000, and then again in 2012 during Miami’s Big Three era. 


The Heat has swept the Knicks in two of their first five postseason series. 


Spoelstra said, “It’s always good for the league when the Heat and the Knicks play in the playoffs.”