The Milwaukee Bucks matched up with the Miami Heat in the playoffs yet again, and this time Milwaukee secured the Game One victory in overtime. After an off night from their star player, the Bucks were saved by a Khris Middleton fadeaway jump shot over Duncan Robinson to lift Milwaukee over Miami. The poor outing from Antetokounmpo was just one of many issues with Milwaukee’s game one performance, and the Bucks will undoubtedly need to make some adjustments moving forward. Here are some factors in game one that could impact the rest of the series.
Milwaukee was outshot by 15 three-pointers on Saturday, with the Bucks making just five of their 31 attempts from beyond the arc, which marks a season-low. Prior to Game One, no team has ever won a playoff game while making 15 fewer three-pointers than their opponent. According to Stathead, the next highest differential in a victory came from the 2015 Memphis Grizzlies with 12 fewer threes than the opposing Portland Trail Blazers.
To win the series, Milwaukee can’t continue to get obliterated from three-point territory. Role players like Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez, who shot a combined 1-9 from three, have to step up shooting the ball in these upcoming games. On top of that, not a single bench player hit a three-pointer for Milwaukee or even scored above eight points. The scoring efficiency from the role players is vital, especially if Giannis continues to shoot poorly.
The reigning back-to-back MVP has a history of offensive struggles against Miami, especially when guarded by Bam Adebayo. Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged just 16.7 points per game on 48.7% shooting in their three regular-season matchups this year. On Saturday, Giannis shot just 37% on 27 shots. A tough matchup for Giannis was expected after his inefficient shooting in the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals and his regular-season matchups against the Heat, but the Greek Freak needs to be more efficient on the offensive end the rest of the series.
Making matters worse for Giannis, he received an injury to his elbow fighting through a Bam Adebayo screen late in the fourth quarter. The damage caused him to have issues flexing his left arm, and he decided to put on a shooting sleeve before reentering the game. Giannis claimed his elbow was okay, but it’s cause for concern as they advance in the series seeing he struggled before he exited the game with this injury.
The Bucks made up for their lack of offense with their stellar defense. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo were stifled, shooting a combined 8-37. PJ Tucker shined defensively for Milwaukee in his 18 minutes of action. When guarded by Tucker, Heat players shot just 1-10 from the floor. This includes Jimmy Butler, who was 0-6 when guarded by Tucker. The addition of Jrue Holiday also tremendously improves their perimeter defense, a much-needed improvement over Eric Bledsoe.
Jrue Holiday could prove himself as the X-Factor for this series. Holiday’s incredible defense paired with the Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo proved worthy in game one and should continue throughout the series. You can read more about Jrue Holiday here.
Although they are favored, Milwaukee has significant room for improvement in their upcoming games. If the Bucks can continue their outstanding defensive play and break their shooting slump, they have a great chance of winning the series. Milwaukee looks to improve upon their sluggish yet victorious performance in Game Two on Monday.
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