MIAMI (AP) — There was no raucous celebration. No histrionics, no big on-court party when the final horn sounded and Milwaukee had officially vanquished its playoff loss to Miami from last season.
Put simply, the Bucks expected to win.
And the last four games showed exactly why.
The Bucks-Heat rematch was a mismatch, and Milwaukee became the first team to advance in this season’s playoffs by beating Miami 120-103 on Saturday to complete a 4-0 first-round sweep. Brook Lopez scored 25 points, Bryn Forbes scored 22 and Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double — 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists — for Milwaukee.
“Obviously, it’s a great moment for us and winning 4-0, beating the team that beat us last year, feels good,” Antetokounmpo said. “But at the end of the day, we’ve got a long way to go.”
Khris Middleton had 20, Bobby Portis 13 and Jrue Holiday 11 for Milwaukee, which outscored Miami by 24 in the second half.
Bam Adebayo scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Miami, which got 18 points from Kendrick Nunn, 14 from Tyler Herro, 13 from Goran Dragic and a triple-double — 12 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists — from Jimmy Butler.
“We tip our hat to the Bucks’ organization,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They were a great team last year and they improved on that. Whether we were a part of that improvement or not, it’s irrelevant. They took their game collectively to another level. They beat us for a reason.”
The Heat became the second team in this playoff format to go from sweeping in the first round one year to being swept in the first round the next. The only other team to endure that was the then-New Jersey Nets, who swept New York in 2004 and lost 4-0 to Miami in 2005.
Once Milwaukee grabbed the first three games, history said the result was inevitable. NBA teams with 3-0 series leads are now 141-0 all-time in those matchups, with these Bucks becoming the 88th of those teams to finish off matters with a sweep.
Their reward: a week off, at least.
The third-seeded Bucks won’t play again until at least next Saturday. Their East semifinals series against either second-seeded Brooklyn or seventh-seeded Boston will start on June 5 if the Nets advance in five games; in any other scenario, the Bucks will next play on June 7.
“We’ve got a long ways to go,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It’s the first round of the playoffs. I think there’s got to be humility, a humbleness, an attitude or a mindset to get better. We’ve advanced in the first round. Whoever we play next, we’ve got to have the similar focus, a similar edge, willingness to play with each other, play together, all the things that we just did. Means nothing if we don’t keep doing it going forward.”
After a pair of Milwaukee romps by a combined 63 points in Games 2 and 3, this one immediately took on a different feel.
The Heat — who led 9-2 shortly after the start of Game 1 and hadn’t enjoyed even that much of a margin in the last 136 minutes and 8 seconds of basketball leading into the start of Game 4 — got the early jump. A pair of free throws by Duncan Robinson with 3:48 left in the opening quarter put Miami up 20-12, its biggest lead of the series, and the Heat margin would eventually grow to as much as 12 in the first half.
Yet there were signs that the Bucks had to like: Antetokounmpo was 1 for 7 with three fouls in the first half, Milwaukee had only two points off the first seven Heat turnovers, and despite all that, Miami’s lead was merely 64-57 at the break.
And, sure enough, the third quarter was all Milwaukee.
“We went out there and competed as hard as possible,” Antetokounmpo said. “Obviously, they made it very, very tough for us but we kept our composure.”
The Heat couldn’t make anything; they shot 8 for 24 in the quarter. Bobby Portis’ 3-pointer late in the third put Milwaukee up by 12, and the lead was 91-85 going into the fourth. Before long, the game was decided, and with that, so was the series.
“Just some missed shots here and there,” Butler said. “I think they did a great job. I think you just kind of leave it at that.”
Bucks: Pat Connaughton started for Donte DiVincenzo, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn tendon in his left ankle. … Milwaukee went 6-1 against the Heat this season. In the previous four seasons combined, the Bucks were 6-13 vs. Miami. … Milwaukee is 12-1 in its last 13 first-round games. … The Bucks are now assured of receiving at least $995,797 from the league’s $20.8 million postseason pool.
Heat: Miami finished the season 40-36 overall, the 15th-best record in the franchise’s 33 seasons. … It was the first time that Andre Iguodala, a veteran of 33 playoff series, endured a sweep. … This was the third consecutive season that the team coming off an NBA Finals loss didn’t win a postseason game. Cleveland missed the 2019 playoffs, Golden State missed the 2020 playoffs and this Heat team got swept. … Miami will receive $592,385 from the league’s postseason pool.
It was the fifth sweep of a best-of-seven series in Bucks history, joining the 2019 first round (vs. Detroit), 1983 East semifinals (vs. Boston), 1974 Western Conference finals (vs. Chicago) and 1971 NBA Finals (vs. Washington). Miami lost a series 4-0 for only the second time, also falling in the 2007 first round vs. Chicago.
This was the first series since 2014 in which Butler didn’t have at least one 20-point game. He shot 19 for 64 in this matchup, by far the worst shooting series of his career.
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