The 2021 NBA Playoffs got underway in thrilling fashion.
Thanks to a game-winning jump shot from Khris Middleton with 0.5 seconds remaining in overtime, the Milwaukee Bucks have taken a 1-0 series lead over the Miami Heat with a 107-105 Game 1 victory. While Middleton finished with a game-high 27 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo (26), Jrue Holiday (20) and Brook Lopez (18) were the only other Bucks in double figures.
For the Heat, Goran Dragic led the way with 25 points, while Duncan Robinson scored 24 points while sinking seven of a franchise postseason record 20 3s.
Have a look at some thoughts from a thrilling Game 1…
1. "Khash Money" Middleton
Middleton capped off a 27-point performance by calling game.
🚨 MIDDLETON WINS IT FOR MILWAUKEE! 🚨- NBA (@NBA) May 22, 2021
His jumper with 0.5 seconds left in OT lifts the @Bucks past Miami in Game 1 of the #NBAPlayoffs! #FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/vxwrwpkvfb
Call him what you want, but he's clearly Milwaukee's closer.
2. Grind it out
This series is going to be a grind.
Through four quarters of physical basketball, two of the league's most disciplined defences played a game reminiscent of playoff basketball from decades ago. It took overtime for the teams to cross the 100-point threshold.
Milwaukee withstood a number of blows from Miami and vice versa but ultimately, the Bucks were able to deliver the final blow with Middleton's big jumper.
3. Struggling stars
Antetokounmpo and Butler are the headliners, and both had forgettable nights by their standards.
For the back-to-back MVP, it wasn't the most efficient night at the office, but he still managed to finish with 26 points, 18 rebounds and five assists despite shooting 37.0 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from the charity stripe.
A quick look at the shot chart shows where Giannis' struggles came.
As for Butler, Game 1 was statistically the worst shooting night of Butler's playoff career. He shot just 4-for-22 from the field, including 2-for-9 from deep but in true Butler fashion, he had one of the biggest plays of the night, a buzzer-beating layup to force overtime.
OUR LEADER pic.twitter.com/8ABHi6CgDo- x - Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 22, 2021
Butler finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and two steals but will look to improve upon his offensive showing in Game 2, which is predicated on getting his jumper to fall.
4. The 3 ball
Speaking of jumpers, we knew that perimeter shooting would be a major key coming into the series.
Game 1 was a clear example.
Led by Duncan Robinson, the Heat won the 3-point line, and it wasn't particularly close.
Duncan's been waiting for this- x - Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 22, 2021
Miami shot 20-for-40 (40.0 percent) from the land beyond while Milwaukee shot just 5-for-31 (16.1 percent); Middleton (3-for-9) was the only Buck to hit more than one triple.
That the Bucks were able to win despite shooting so poorly should be discouraging for the Heat. Moving forward, it's hard to imagine Milwaukee shooting sub-20 percent and it's equally difficult to envision Miami hitting as many 3s at such an efficient clip.
Adjustments will be made.
5. Playoff Holiday
In the offseason, Milwaukee motioned to acquire Holiday and this season, ensured he'd be a part of the franchise for years to come.
Game 1 showed why.
Including an 11-point third quarter, Holiday finished the game with 20 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals. He came up big down the stretch, going coast-to-coast to put the Bucks up by three points late in overtime.
PLAYOFF JRUE. pic.twitter.com/jgbML8XaFA- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 22, 2021
On both ends of the floor, we'll see just how Holiday makes this team completely different from years past, especially in the game's most crucial moments.
6. Game 2…
Is set for Monday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
There's plenty to keep an eye on, as both Antetokounmpo and Butler will look to bounce back from rough outings, while the Bucks will look to make adjustments to limit the potency of the Heat's 3-point shooting. It'll be yet another grind.
Catch you then.
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