After a poor shooting night from long range in their overtime win over the Miami Heat in Game 1, the Milwaukee Bucks regressed to the mean in spectacular fashion in their 132-98 blowout win in Game 2 at Fiserv Forum.
Milwaukee started the game with a historic first quarter, in which they dominated virtually every facet of the game. Their 10 3-point baskets matched an NBA record for the most in a quarter, and their 26-point lead matched the largest after the first quarter in postseason history.
Bucks guard Bryn Forbes was the catalyst for the early onslaught from distance. The sharpshooting reserve drained five of six from beyond the arc in the first quarter alone. He finished the night with 22 points, including a 6-for-9 mark from 3.
“If my man got the hot hand, I’m going to him,” Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday said. “And he wasn’t missing, so at that point we were running everything to him just to — really just to see what happens.”
While Forbes paced the Bucks from the outside, Giannis Antetokounmpo controlled the interior, where the Heat had no answer. He turned in an efficient effort, throwing down six dunks in his 12-for-23 night from the field and finishing with 31 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals in 31 minutes. With the game out of reach in the third quarter, Antetokounmpo delighted the home crowd with a soccer exhibition — juggling a basketball with his feet nine times — during a stoppage in play.
“I can do probably like 300 of those,” Antetokounmpo said. “I wanted to play soccer. I didn’t want to play basketball growing up.”
Both Antetokounmpo and Forbes emphasized that the Bucks’ offensive outburst was fueled in large part by their defense. Over the first two games of the series, Milwaukee has posted a miniscule defensive rating of 100.4, locking up Miami both in the half court and in transition. Those defensive stops ignited the Bucks, ultimately leading to open shots against a backpedaling Heat defense.
“Defense had something to do with it,” Forbes said. “We were getting big stops and pushing it in transition and just finding shots.”
From the outset, the Bucks leveraged the Heat’s aggressive double-teams with timely pass-outs and crisp reversals to open shooters. Overall, Milwaukee scored 29 points and turned the ball over only once in the 17 possessions in which Miami sent a double-team at a Bucks player.
Holiday, who compiled 15 assists, orchestrated much of the Bucks’ offensive attack while they built their massive first-quarter lead. Holiday notched seven assists in the first quarter, when Milwaukee scored 20 points off his passes. When the Bucks did miss the rare shot in the first, they crashed the offensive glass and collected half of their misses.
The Bucks led 78-51 at halftime, and the margin never narrowed to closer than 25 points in the second half. They finished 22-for-53 on 3-pointers and now lead the series 2-0.
For Miami, the loss underscored their offensive struggles, with both wingman Jimmy Butler and big man Bam Adebayo posting forgettable production for the second consecutive game. Butler is now 8-for-32 from the field in the series for a total of 27 points, while Adebayo is now 9-for-26 for a total of 25 points. Neither was able to find room to operate against reigning Defensive Player of the Year Antetokounmpo, NBA All-Defense second-teamer Brook Lopez and a Bucks scheme players are executing with precision.
The Heat will host the Bucks in Game 3 in Miami on Thursday night, when they’ll try to find their first win of the series.
“The bright side is, I don’t think we can play any worse,” Butler said.