The Miami Heat took a 1-0 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks in their Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 115-104 win on Monday night. The game was marred by injuries to both teams, as the Heat lost point guard Goran Dragic and center Bam Adebayo, while the Bucks saw reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo exit in the second half with a sprained ankle.
Dragic suffered a torn plantar fascia in his left foot in the first half and did not return. He had six points and three assists in 15 minutes. Adebayo left the game in the third quarter with a strained neck and finished with eight points and four rebounds in 21 minutes.
The Heat said both players will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.
Antetokounmpo twisted his right ankle in the first quarter, but played through it until he aggravated it again in the fourth quarter. He limped to the locker room with 10:18 remaining and did not come back.
He had 19 points, four rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes.
The Heat were led by Jimmy Butler, who scored a playoff career-high 40 points on 13-of-20 shooting. He also had 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Butler became the third player in Heat history to score 40 points in a playoff game, joining Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
The Bucks got a boost from Khris Middleton, who stepped up in Antetokounmpo’s absence and scored 28 points, including 21 in the fourth quarter. He also had eight assists and six rebounds.
Brook Lopez added 24 points and nine rebounds for Milwaukee.
The Heat outscored the Bucks 40-13 in the third quarter to take a commanding 93-75 lead. The Bucks cut the deficit to nine points with 4:03 left in the fourth quarter, but Butler scored eight straight points to seal the win for Miami.
The Heat have won five straight games in the playoffs and are 9-1 against the Bucks this season. They will look to take a 2-0 lead on Wednesday night.
Final Thoughts: Heat take Game 1 over injury-plagued Bucks
The Miami Heat’s victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series was a hard-fought battle marred by injuries on both sides.
Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo left the game for the Heat with injuries, while reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo also exited with a sprained ankle for the Bucks.
Despite the injuries, the Heat were able to dominate the third quarter, outscoring the Bucks 40-13 to take a commanding lead. Jimmy Butler led the way for Miami, scoring a playoff career-high 40 points and becoming just the third player in Heat history to score 40 points in a playoff game, joining Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
While Khris Middleton stepped up for the Bucks in Antetokounmpo’s absence, scoring 28 points and dishing out eight assists, it was not enough to overcome the Heat’s strong play.
Miami has now won five straight games in the playoffs and holds a 9-1 record against the Bucks this season.
Looking ahead, both teams will have to adjust to the loss of key players due to injuries. The Heat will have to find ways to compensate for the absence of Dragic and Adebayo, while the Bucks will have to find a way to win without Antetokounmpo, who is currently listed as day-to-day.
As for the Heat, their ability to win despite injuries and continue their playoff success bodes well for their chances in this series. They will look to take a 2-0 lead on Wednesday night, while the Bucks will look to regroup and come back stronger in Game 2.