The Miami Heat almost pulled off the win against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1, but an absurd shot by Khris Middleton sent Miami into a tale of what could have been.
Miami had every opportunity to win the game but fell short, despite the heroic efforts of Jimmy Butler at the end of regulation and in overtime. Now, this team must hope for a split heading into Game 2.
The Heat has many areas where they must improve upon from the last game, aspects that will determine whether the Bucks go up 2-0 or if the Heat tie the series at one game apiece.
Jimmy Butler needs to unleash “Playoff Jimmy”
Butler played his worst game ever in a Heat uniform. He totaled 17 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists while shooting a horrendous 4-of-22 from the field. The shooting numbers are insanely bad for Butler.
It was an uncharacteristic night for the 31-year-old superstar offensively, which saw him shoot 2-of-9 from the three-point line. Butler’s previous season-high for three-point attempts was eight against the Charlotte Hornets.
The majority of those shots were open because the Bucks gave it to him. Butler could have made them, but he just didn’t convert. The same goes for his shooting in the entirety of the game.
Butler shot plenty of jumpers, but they rarely turned into points. His decision-making was questionable and “Playoff Jimmy” didn’t look like the guy we were accustomed to.
Miami now enters a pivotal Game 2, which can swing control of the series. Butler knows he has to play better and if he had played any better, the Heat would have come away with a win in Game 1.
Miami Heat must continue stellar defensive play
Miami put on a defensive clinic on Sunday afternoon, but its offense wasn’t able to take advantage of that stellar play on the defensive end of the floor.
Milwaukee came away from the game shooting 5-of-31 (16.1%) from beyond the arc, which is uncharacteristic. During the regular season, this team ranked fifth in three-point percentage at 38.9% per game.
However, the Bucks also ranked 29th in the NBA in opponent’s three-point percentage at 38.4%, just above the Minnesota Timberwolves, while the Heat ranked 15th in the same area.
Giannis Antetokounmpo also had a rough game, despite winning Game 1. He scored 26 points on 27 attempts from the field. Bam Adebayo and others really kept him down when it comes to scoring.
If Antetokounmpo plays like this moving forward, the Bucks might as well clean their lockers out early and let the coaching rumors begin.
The Heat’s defense needs to play exactly how it did in Game 1. If they can accomplish that and hold the Bucks offense to sub-30% from beyond the arc in a few games, Miami will be in a good spot.
Bam Adebayo needs to be aggressive on offense
Bam Adebayo’s defense was nothing short of spectacular in Game 1, but his offense left us asking for more as he only scored nine points on 4-of-15 shooting.
If you combine Butler and Adebayo’s shooting nights, the duo shot 21.6% from the floor, which is terrible for both of them. Adebayo particularly struggled finishing at the basket and with his jump shots.
Even Goran Dragic publicly made the call for Adebayo to be more aggressive. However, Adebayo attempted 15 shots on Sunday afternoon, so how much more aggressive should we want him to be and why?
Well, Adebayo was settling for the shots he was given, which is fine because he should make them, but on many occasions, he didn’t even look at the basket. That’s not okay and Adebayo even admitted that himself in a post-game press conference.
If there’s an opportunity to drive or shoot the ball, Adebayo should take the opportunity. Adebayo is one of the better big men in the NBA and the mentality he has on offense is mind-boggling to many fans.
Adebayo does have his own role carved out for him on offense, but there are times where needs to step up and make the right decision. They don’t need Adebayo to shoot 30 times, but if there’s an opportunity, he simply needs to take it.
Butler played poorly Adebayo had one of the worst shooting performances in the past two years. The Heat still sent the game to overtime and only lost to the Bucks on an absurd game-winning shot.
Yes, Milwaukee will shoot better than 16.1% from beyond the arc, but there’s no way that Butler and Adebayo will continue what they did in Game 1. Miami should feel like they can win this series because of that very fact.
The Heat need to go out in Game 2 and set the tone early. Butler needs to show that he will not settle for anything less than his first performance and Adebayo shouldn’t let the Bucks off the hook anymore.