Put the brooms away.
Thanks to a gutsy performance across the board, the Milwaukee Bucks earned a 118-115 overtime win to force a Game 5 in their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat.
Khris Middleton led the way for Milwaukee with 36 points (on 12-for-28 shooting), 30 of which came in the second half and overtime. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who hobbled into the game on a bad ankle, scored 19 points in 11 minutes before re-aggravating the injury and not returning.
For Miami, Bam Adebayo led the way with 26 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists while sharpshooter Duncan Robinson added 20 points, connecting on six of his 12 3-point attempts.
For more on how the Bucks extended their season, here are some takeaways from a thriller.
Middleton keeps Milwaukee going
When Giannis Antetokounmpo went down in the second quarter, there wasn't much hesitation from the Bucks other All-Star in stepping up to fill the reigning MVP's shoes.
Khris Middleton entered the half with just six points shooting 3-for-8 from the field and 0-for-3 from 3-point land. He knew that without Giannis, that wouldn't be enough to keep his team's season alive.
The star forward would go on to catch fire immediately out of the half. Middleton scored a franchise playoff record 21 points in the third quarter alone, taking over to the tune of 6-for-9 from the field, 2-for-2 from 3 and a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line.
Khris has set the Bucks playoff record for points in a quarter (21 pts). pic.twitter.com/qHOMiwnxMM- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) September 6, 2020
He'd go silent in the fourth quarter when the Heat defence made it primary to stop him, but the Bucks' supporting cast was able to hold things down to force overtime. In the extra period, Middleton got loose again scoring nine of his team's 11 points to get Milwaukee on the board in this series.
No shot he hit was bigger than the dagger that sealed the game.
BANG!! pic.twitter.com/p1uobI2VA5- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) September 6, 2020
The two-time All-Star finished with a stuffed stat sheet of 36 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals, and the Bucks live to fight another day.
- Kyle Irving ( @KyleIrv_ )
Bam Adebayo continues to transcend
We're constantly reminded of just how good Heat centre Bam Adebayo is.
The 23-year-old already has an All-Star appearance to his name and is adding more and more signature postseason performances to his résumè. In Game 4, Adebayo did just about all he could to try and lead his team to a sweep.
Not only did Adebayo flirt with a triple-double, he did so efficiently, scoring 23 points (on 10-for-13 shooting), pulling down 12 rebounds and dishing out eight assists.
There aren't too many 23-year-old bigs putting up numbers like that and if they are, they definitely aren't this athletic:
💥 @Bam1of1 with the one-handed Oop 👀 pic.twitter.com/xKzpQG0Kw0- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 6, 2020
Jimmy Butler often refers to Adebayo as the heart and soul of this Heat team but sometimes, it feels like Bam doesn't get the credit he deserves. He certainly earned it with his performance.
Expect him to bring even more to the table in Game 5.
- Gilbert McGregor ( @GMcGregor21 )
Life without Giannis
Antetokounmpo was a game-time decision before Game 4, still sore from an ankle injury suffered in Game 3. After going through pre-game shootaround, the All-Star forward felt he was in good enough shape to suit up, but his ankle didn't hold up very long.
On a drive to the hoop in the second quarter, Giannis would turn that same right ankle and hit the deck. Before hobbling off the floor under his own power, The Greek Freak made his way back to the court to shoot his free throws because if he had exited the game without doing so, he would not have been eligible to return at any point in Game 4 had his ankle improved
Shortly after, Antetokounmpo was ruled out for the game but the team would find a way to win without him.
Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a right ankle sprain and is out for the game. pic.twitter.com/Q8aEa0vTOY- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) September 6, 2020
Prior to Game 4, the Bucks were actually statistically better with their reigning MVP on the bench, ironically enough. According to NBA.com Stats , Milwaukee's offence has scored 18.6 more points per 100 possessions with Giannis off the court versus him on the court.
Antetokounmpo's -15.8 net rating is the worst on his team in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Does this really mean the Bucks are better off playing without Giannis? No, of course not. But it does show that there is some hope that they can battle their way back into this series if they play the way they did in Game 4.
Antetokounmpo's status for Game 5 is still up in the air, but you'd have to imagine it'll be tough to get back out there just 48 hours later.
Mike Budenholzer said that Giannis will get treatment and they will "see how he does over the next 24-48 hours" to determine his status for Game 5.- Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) September 6, 2020
"When he went down," Budenholzer said, "All our hearts just stopped for a second."
Should that be the case, it's worth noting that the Bucks were 5-5 this season without their star player.
So… there's still a chance?
In earning a Game 4 win the Bucks have fought to see another day, extending their postseason lives.
But can they make history?
After Game 3, both Kyle and Scott Rafferty expressed a lack of confidence in the Bucks' ability to crawl back from a 0-3 deficit to advance past the Heat. After all, it is something that has never been done in NBA history.
In fact, only three times has a team down 0-3 come back to force a Game 7 in league history.
- 1951 NBA Finals - New York Knicks force Game 7 after 0-3 deficit to Rochester Royals, who won in seven.
- 1994 Western Conference Semifinals - Denver Nuggets force Game 7 after 0-3 deficit to Utah Jazz, who won in seven
- 2003 Western Conference First Round - Portland Trail Blazers force Game 7 after 0-3 deficit to Dallas Mavericks, who won in seven
The health of Giannis Antetokounmpo will largely impact whether or not the Bucks will have an opportunity to be the fourth team on this list and ultimately, try to rewrite the history books. But until it gets eliminated, Milwaukee has a chance.
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