The Miami Heat finished the regular season with the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference. However, the team wasn’t considered a legitimate championship contender.
After all, this ball club had not advanced past the second round of the playoffs since 2016. That changed, however, when the Miami Heat knocked off the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs.
After dispatching the Pacers, Miami would be matched up against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. This is no easy matchup, considering the Bucks finished with the league’s best record for the second straight season.
These two teams played each other three times during the regular season. Miami won the first two matchups. Milwaukee won the third meeting between these ball clubs during the bubble restart. That said, the question coming into this series was whether the Miami Heat could continue their success against the Bucks in this postseason matchup.
Early on, the Bucks jumped out to a sizable 40-29 advantage and appeared to be in good shape. However, Miami managed to cut the deficit to 63-60 going into halftime.
The Miami Heat continued to turn up the intensity on the defensive end of the floor and led 92-86 going into the final frame. The two teams went back and forth for most of the fourth quarter.
Then, Jimmy Butler took over down the stretch. The All-Star forward scored 13 of the Miami Heat’s final 16 points, enabling Miami to take Game 1 115-104.
Butler finished with a playoff career-high of 40 points and he scored those points in efficient fashion. He connected on 13 of his 20 attempts from the field. Butler also converted both of his attempts from 3-point range. It should be mentioned that Butler shot just 24 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season.
The Miami Heat also received solid contributions from Goran Dragic (27 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Bam Adebayo (12 points, 17 rebounds and six assists).
One of the biggest takeaways from Miami’s victory is the fact that the team held Giannis Antetokounmpo — the league’s top defensive player — in check. Sure he finished with a near triple-double (18 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists). But he also took just 12 shots, while committing six turnovers. Moreover, the reigning MVP shot just 4-for-12 from the charity stripe.
With the victory, the Miami Heat are now 3-1 against the Bucks this season and they will seek to take a 2-0 lead when these teams meet again on Wednesday night.