The Milwaukee Bucks won Game 1 of their series against the Miami Heat on Saturday, thanks to a late jumper from Khris Middleton. The same two teams faced off at Fiserv Forum only two days later, but although the win-loss record was identical, the game flow was anything but. In reality, Milwaukee threw the first blow, followed by the second, third, and fourth, and the Heat never responded, and the Bucks won 132-98 to take a 2-0 series lead.
Mike Budenholzer’s team dominated right away, going on a 19-4 streak in the first five minutes. With nine points, five rebounds, and two assists in that period, Giannis Antetokounmpo set the tone, and the Bucks caught fire with scorching-hot shooting.
With the support of reserve guard Bryn Forbes, who made his presence known with authority, the Bucks extended their lead to 29-10. Forbes’ 14-point barrage helped to crack the game open for good after the former Spurs guard made his first five attempts, including four three-pointers, in his first six minutes of action.
Milwaukee jumped out to a 28-point lead in the first quarter before settling in with a 46-20 lead after 12 minutes. In the third quarter, the Bucks fired an incredible 72 percent from the field, making 10 three-pointers and dishing out 17 assists. Milwaukee’s ten three-pointers tied for the most in any quarter this season, and the team’s 26-point lead tied for the highest in NBA playoff history in the first quarter.
Despite the fact that the damage had been done, the Bucks didn’t let up, and Forbes was no exception. He scored 19 points in the first eight minutes of the second period, helping to widen the lead.
The game was effectively over by halftime, with the Bucks leading by 27 points. Milwaukee hit 15 three-pointers in the first half, setting a franchise playoff record, and shot 56 percent overall with 22 assists, including 11 from Jrue Holiday. The Bucks not only shot the lights out, but they also grabbed 11 offensive rebounds (on only 23 missed field goals) in the first half, allowing them to average more than 1.5 points per possession.
Milwaukee didn’t completely dominate the third quarter, but they did enough to keep the Heat from posing a challenge. The Bucks took the third period by two points, taking a 28-point lead into the fourth quarter, and the second half was mostly academic in nature, apart from some fireworks and words exchanged between the two teams.
If the game had been more competitive, the Bucks may have been able to make NBA playoff history defensively, but they were incredibly productive overall. Despite nearly an entire half of garbage time, Milwaukee finished the night shooting 22 of 53 from three-point range and assisting on 34 field goals. Holiday (11 points, 15 assists), Forbes (22 points), and Middleton all had big nights, with Antetokounmpo leading the way with 31 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, and three steals (17 points on eight shooting possessions).
With the win, the Bucks seize control of the series, but the Heat can take minor solace in the matchup shifting to Miami beginning with Game 3 on Thursday. Though the saying goes that the series does not begin until the home team loses, the Heat will need to find solutions in a hurry against a Bucks team that is seemingly firing on all cylinders.