Given their 0-2 deficit in the series and the nature of their Game 2 loss, it would have been safe to bet on the Miami Heat coming out in Game 3 with a sense of urgency in front of their home crowd at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Instead, the hosts got off to slow starts in every quarter and it was the visiting Bucks who were relentless. After trailing in the first few minutes by the slim margin of one field goal, Milwaukee flipped the tables on the hosts.
"Defence, we set the tone early in the game," Giannis Antetokounmpo said postgame about how Game 3 was won. "We knew how important this game was. We came out keeping guys in front, we were rebounding the ball. We were able to set the tone defensively."
Leading by as many as 32 at one point, the Bucks outperformed the Heat in nearly every major stat category but it really only came down to two key aspects - their defence and balanced team offence.
"We dogs. That's all we talk about," PJ Tucker said postgame on what allowed the Bucks defence to limit the Heat to just 84 points. That's all I ever talk about. We gotta be dogs. People's perceptions of us and what people think in the past, we're erasing all of that."
"Us carrying that mentality every game, every possession, every day." https://t.co/EeZaRrxpbR pic.twitter.com/B4iksRvcv2- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 28, 2021
Milwaukee had six different players in double-digit scoring with the trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday combining for 58 points while the Heat only had two regular rotation players in double figures with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo combining for 36.
Two key players for Miami in Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, who were huge in last year's playoff matchup against the Bucks, only combined for 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting from the field and 1-of-9 from 3-point distance.
|FGM-FGA (FG%)||3PM-3PA (3P%)||REBS|
|Milwaukee Bucks||43-89 (48.3%)||13-36 (36.1%)||60|
|Miami Heat||32-85 (37.6%)||9-32 (28.1%)||45|
Each time, Miami would string a couple of baskets in a row, in what could have been the start of a run, the Bucks would extinguish that momentum by responding with a bucket or two of their own.
With this loss, the Heat are now trailing 3-0 - a complete turnaround to last year's Conference Semifinals series when Miami was up 3-0.
The best plays from tonight's WIN as the Bucks take a 3-0 series lead!! pic.twitter.com/RMsespxRzs- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 28, 2021
"We got better from last year," Antetokounmpo said postgame while discussing the team's toughness and physicality. "We've had great additions to the team that help us do that."
The quartet, all of whom were added last offseason or midway through this one, of Holiday (12 assists, +41), PJ Tucker (+21 in 23 minutes), Bryn Forbes (11 points in 20 minutes) and Bobby Portis (nine rebounds in 17 minutes) combined for 46 points.
The Bucks are now owners of a commanding lead with teams being 140-0 in NBA history when leading 3-0. Both teams will have a short turnaround with only a day off with Game 4 tipping-off at 11:00 p.m IST on Saturday, May 29.
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