The last time the Bucks met the Miami Heat in the playoffs, the bubble-set matchup ended with a lot of questions for Milwaukee fans. After getting knocked around and then out in just five games, was Coach Bud just a regular season manager, unable to make the needed adjustments come playoff basketball? Would the Bucks ever play up their potential, or had they met an apparent ceiling? And what would this mean for a then-non-Supermaxed Giannis and his future in Milwaukee?
The only question for Bucks fans this time around after their postseason rematch: Who wants next?
The Bucks firmly put the past behind them as they finished off the once-dreaded Heat on Saturday afternoon in Florida, topping off a sweep of sixth seeded Miami with a 120-103 victory and moving onto the second round of the NBA playoffs for the third straight year.
The final score is a bit deceptive as the Miami Heat showed up in the first half like a team desperate for a win while the Bucks started off looking like a team with a comfortable 3-0 series lead. With Giannis having a quiet offensive start, scoring only five points at the half, plus a plethora of turnovers, Milwaukee was fairly lucky to be down only seven at the half.
However, for a team that struggled rather painfully with making adjustments over the past two postseason trips, the Bucks came out in the third quarter eager to extinguish any thoughts of a Game 5. Milwaukee not only made up the seven-point difference but took a six-point lead at the end of the third thanks to another flame-throwing performance from bench mob star Bryn Forbes as well as some rally-killing defense and buckets down low from Brook Lopez. And though he struggled a bit with his shot today, Giannis did a stupendous job getting involved on the boards and getting great looks for his teammates, racking up his first playoff triple double with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists.
The Bucks wouldn't look back from there, adding to their lead throughout the fourth, getting timely stops and eventually smothering the Heat out of existence – so comfortably that Coach Bud got to clean out the bench for the final minute or two. The result was not only a dominating playoff performance; it was an exorcism, cleaning out any doubt still haunting Bucks fans and basketball commentators about this year's squad – plus cleaning out any social media sass from once-smug Heat fans.
And now, the Bucks face a welcome but frustrating foe for a hot team: waiting. The team will get a brief break while prepping for the winner of the Brooklyn Nets/Boston Celtics series – currently with the higher-seeded Nets up, two games to one. If the Nets win, the Bucks will take the court once again in Brooklyn; if the Celtics pull off the upset (unlikely but stranger things have happened), they'll be back in Milwaukee to start round two.
Brooklyn and Boston won't be wrapped up until Tuesday at the soonest. Until then, the Bucks can savor bidding the Heat – and their bubble nightmares – a fond farewell. And as for sadder goodbyes ...
Well done by the Bucks to send the retiring Jim Paschke out on a tremendous high note.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.