The Milwaukee Bucks were on the wrong end of a thorough cleaning, they were quickly swept out of the 1st Round of this year’s Playoffs. Miami beat the Bucks in the same way that they beat most teams in the regular season, efficiently. Miami is now awaiting the winner of the Brooklyn-Chicago Series, not being an extrmely young team this gives the Heat time to rest. Specifically Dwayne Wade, who was active for the fourth and final game of the series but didn’t play. Wade is trying to get his knee back to 100% or as close to it before the start of the second round.
As a team Miami shot just shy of 50% from the floor at 49.7%, which is extremely impressive. The Heat struggled from deep, connecting on just 32.3% from shots beyond the arch. Taking the three point struggle into consideration, Miami was remarkably efficient scoring the ball inside of the three point line. They also did a good job getting to rim and drawing fouls. They took 25.8 trips to the charity line per game, which was a need coming into this series with a good rim protector like Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders. LeBron James led the way by moving the ball, James averaged 6.8 assists in this series. The key to Miami’s offensive success is spacing and ball movement, their shooters keep the floor spread while James and Wade attack the rim. Chris Bosh may be the biggest key to spreading the floor, his ability to step out and hit the corner three opens those driving lanes that much more. Bosh shot 53.8 % from the floor, but more importantly he shot 42.9% from beyond the arch. Miami’s supporting cast didn’t shoot great from deep, but they kept the ball moving and played spirited defense. The Heat also rose to the challenge on the glass, Milwaukee was a very good rebounding team in the regular season. Miami out-rebounded the Bucks by an average of 10 rebounds per game, it was truly rebounding by committee. Six Heat players averaged 4 or more rebounds per game throughout this series. James was nothing short of magnificent in this series; while the Heat were expected to beat the Bucks, no one expected him to shoot 62.7% from the floor. Miami was far from perfect in their first round victory, but they were able to be dominant in key stretches to avoid playing extra games.
Milwaukee wasn’t nearly as productive on the offensive end of the floor, for the series they shot 43.3% from the floor an a paltry 26.1% from beyond the arch. Their post season three point shooting was a stark contrast to their regular season success from beyond the arch, Milwaukee shot 36% from deep in the regular season. The Bucks got to the free throw line at the same rate, but shot considerably worse from there as well. Milwaukee shot 76.3% in the regular season to just 63% in the post season, struggling from the free throw line only compounded their struggles offensively. Their two best players on the offensive end struggled mightily in this series, neither Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis were able to consistently get on track. Many of their baskets were tightly contested shots, some of which went in but Miami was happy with them taking. The ball didn’t move nearly very well for the Bucks on the offensive end; one of the better three point shooters in the league attempted just 6 shots a game in JJ Redick, only one player outside of Ellis and Jennings recorded double figure shot attempts in this series. In the Series Preview we discussed how important it was that the Bucks had a balanced attack, that never happened for Milwaukee. It was either Jennings and Ellis go off sans the supporting cast or the supporting cast sans Ellis & Jennings.
Throughout this series, games were close for several quarters until Miami separated from Milwaukee. That often happened in the late third and entire fourth quarter in every game. Milwaukee averaged 40.5 second half point per game while Miami averaged 52 second half points a game. Miami clamped down defensively and kept scoring while the Bucks were routinely playing catch up, a team can’t come back by trading baskets. Going forward Miami will have to be locked in defensively for the entire game if they wish to defend their title. The Heat’s efficient offense will be hard to knock off track, as their 1st Round performance was far from their best. The winner of the Brooklyn-Chicago Series will provide a much tougher test than Milwaukee was capable of presenting. Miami is resting and waiting to find out who their Second Round opponent will be, don’t expect a clean sweep.
Written By Wilson K. Tarpeh Jr.