No team in NBA history has ever been able to recover from an 0-3 hole in a best-of-seven playoff series.
And that’s exactly what the Milwaukee Bucks now face after losing Friday to the Miami Heat 115-100 in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo put up 21 points with 16 rebounds and 9 assists, but he struggled down the stretch against a tough Miami defense, going 7-for-21 from the field with three turnovers in 34 minutes, 54 seconds.
Despite tweaking his right ankle in the opening quarter, and seemingly grimacing throughout the contest on certain plays, Antetokounmpo said he felt “great” and that “it wasn’t bothering me at all.”
“I feel great,” Antetokounmpo said. “I could play more.”
However, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer continued to monitor his minutes and said he didn’t regret not using him and Khris Middleton more in the game. Middleton put up 18 points with seven assists in 36:02.
“No, I think we, obviously, it’s 48 minutes. You gotta be good for the last 12. If anything, I think keeping us fresh and ready to go and compete and all those things,” Budenholzer said. “Khris was in a little bit of a foul trouble. It’s a high level. If you’re going as hard as these guys are in a playoff game, 35-36 [minutes], I think that’s pushing the ceiling.”
The Bucks were outscored in the fourth quarter by 27, which was the largest points differential in a fourth quarter of a playoff game in the shot clock era (since 1955), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Milwaukee led by 12 entering the fourth quarter and ultimately lost by 15. That represents the largest points differential in a loss by a team that led by 12 points entering the fourth quarter in playoff history.
“No, I’m not surprised. I think everyone else in the world might be, but not us,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said of the fourth quarter, in which he posted 17 of his 30 points. “If you wear a Heat jersey, if you’re one of these coaches, if you’re part of this organization and you’ve been saying what we’ve been doing all year long, that doesn’t surprise us. We’ve got so much fight, we never give up, and I feel like with those two things, we always give ourselves a chance to win.”
Despite being disappointed in the results, Antetokounmpo said he is confident that his squad can rally back, even if history isn’t on their side.
“We feel good; they feel good. I am in a good place. Obviously, if there is a team that can beat a team 4-0, and beat them, it can be us,” Antetokounmpo said. “We just got to believe in ourselves, watch the tape, play hard. We can’t do it game by game but play by play, position by position. We have to believe in ourselves, we can do it.”
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