NBA Playoffs – Mini-oral story of the wild end of Miami Heat’s Game 2 win over Milwaukee Bucks

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The Miami Heat’s 116-114 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 was one of the strangest endings of an NBA playoff game in recent memory. What seemed like a given when the Heat took a nine-point lead with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter turned into a strange string of calls and mistakes.It was only fitting that a game in which players were whistled for a total of 51 personal fouls would ultimately be resolved by the administration of justice. It wasn’t that long ago that shooting fouls on 3-point attempts were relatively rare in NBA games. But Wednesday night, the Bucks and Heat were called up for seven of them. At stake for match officials: Defenders offering sufficient landing space for perimeter shooters, a point of interest for the league in recent seasons.

When it was all over, the seeded Bucks fell 2-0 down in the Eastern Conference Semifinals series. After winning three-quarters of their regular-season games in the past two seasons, Milwaukee is at risk of retiring from the final as a favorite for the second straight season. If the Bucks stage a comeback, they’ll need to mount it against a confident, focused, and shooting-gifted Heat team whose defensive activity seems just as pesky as that of the Bucks’ vaunted, top-ranked unit.

For pure spectacle, the final moments of Game 2 deserve another look, with commentary from those who were there. – Kevin Arnovitz

MORE: Watch Game 2 With Bucks Owner Marc Lasry


19.8 seconds left: Heat 113, Bucks 107

As officials considered the previous out-of-bounds call, the Bucks rallied on the sideline resulting in a late-game violation. Confusion led Milwaukee to request a time-out, giving coach Mike Budenholzer a chance to prepare a game.

Goran Dragic, heat guard: We won 11 points, they called a blatant foul on Bam [Adebayo], then they get an offensive rebound and shoot a 3, so it’s basically 11 points to 5 to 3. It was just a tough game overall.

Mike Budenholzer, Bucks coach: We get great looks and perform and get free throws, get turnovers and steals. I think there have been some good defensive and attacking play in the last 20 seconds and there are a few things we want to see in a different way.

Erik Spoelstra, Heat trainer: Emotionally you are six points ahead of the court, but you know you have to run, be able to get a few hoops because you know how fast they’re going to go up the field and they present challenges there. -low. We didn’t handle it perfectly (laughs) as you can see, but we’ll use those teaching moments tomorrow.

15,0 secondes restantes, Heat 113, Bucks 109

After Giannis Antetokounmpo’s dunk reduced Miami’s lead to four, the Heat chose not to call a time-out and fall back to the baseline. The Bucks were right on target, trapping Jimmy Butler in the backcourt.

Jimmy Butler, heat guard: I tried to pull it into their basket, obviously, and I almost got it. I don’t know why I threw the ball so high that Goran could jump so high and catch it. But I saw Goran and thought, “Throw him in Goran’s path. It’s actually a terrible IQ game. You should never throw the ball towards the other team’s basket. I had a lack of judgment.

8,5 secondes restantes: Heat 113, Bucks 111

With their lead reduced to 2 points, the Heat chose to cancel the time-out and advance the ball to half the court. Butler corralled the entry pass and was immediately fouled, sending him to the line for two free throws.

7,7 secondes restantes: Heat 114, Bucks 111

After Butler split his free throws, Milwaukee called the timeout and reinserted Khris Middleton, who had gone to the bench during the previous timeout because he had committed five fouls. He came up for a potential 3-point draw with 4.3 seconds left, and Dragic was whistled for a foul for entering Middleton’s landing zone.

Spoelstra: They say it’s a kick, I say no, so they’re right at the end of the day. That’s what I tell our players all the time. You can chat or not, they made the call and it’s the call, then go to replay and still make the call. There is no argument here.

Spoelstra: From our point of view, we foul the shooters too much. Two consecutive games, whether we agree or not. We need to be more disciplined. These are expensive games, 3 point fouls.

4.3 secondes restantes: Heat 114, Bucks 114

The Heat used their last time out to set up one final play. Butler got the ball, dribbled the clock and took a back baseline jump just before the buzzer. He missed, but Antetokounmpo was convicted of a foul. The Bucks were unable to contest the call, as Budenholzer had used his challenge earlier in the second half to reverse what would have been Antetokounmpo’s fourth foul. Officials checked to make sure the foul happened before the buzzer sounded and eventually sent Butler to the line with zeros on the clock.

Spoelstra: We had several different options for this game. It didn’t take a genius to know that we were going to put the ball in Jimmy’s mitts and see what can happen from there, and he was very patient. There are four seconds left, I think a lot of players would probably be in a hurry. He took his time; he was going to try to go to his place.

Butler: It was an iso, Goran made a hell of a pass on the finish, then wait for the clock to go out. A recoil jumper and I made a mistake, pushed me in the back. (shrugs) I can’t deny it.

Antetokounmpo: I haven’t seen the room. I have to see the play again. I tried to make it difficult for Jimmy. The referee said there was a contact there, maybe there was, I have to look at the play. It is what it is.

Tyler Herro, heat guard: Thank goodness Jimmy was the victim of a foul. We gave the ball to our best player and he made a play and fouled himself and knocked down both free throws. We wanted to win so much.

Budenholzer: We are disappointed with the judgment and the decision on the timing. It’s hard work and I have a lot of respect for the officials, the team tonight. It is not an easy job and of course we have our own way of looking at it.

Antetokounmpo: I personally think it was the right part. I have done this several times in my career. When the guy is dribbling and picking up his pace, like he’s got 4 seconds, he’s not going to pass the ball, he’s going to shoot the ball. So I’m just going to look around the part to see if it was the right part.

Middleton: It’s really hard to come out like that, where we haven’t even had any luck with no time on the clock. I don’t think I’ve seen this before, in a regular season or playoff game. So it’s definitely a tough way out.

Butler: I guess there are no fans on the free throws. So it’s kind of the same, it’s just different every time – like no one on the line at the end of the game. But you step in and you make one, and it’s the ball game, so j felt like doing that, doing my job, and that part of it was different, but it’s still free shot.

Marc Lasry, owner of Bucks (in a post-match text to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan): To lose a match like that. It is just wrong.

As Butler left the field, he spotted Heat president Pat Riley in the crowd.

Butler: It’s the godfather, man. This is the OG. A huge reason why I’m here, obviously. But I’ve said time and time again he wanted me here and it’s the best feeling to know that you’re wanted in an organization and they want you as a player, they want what you can bring to the table . He has so much confidence in my abilities. It runs down the line, man. I’m grateful for him, Spo, all those knuckleheads I can circle around with. It is a blessing to be here in Miami.

The Heat now lead the series 2-0. The third game is scheduled for Friday.

ESPN’s Eric Woodyard, Nick Friedell and Tim Bontemps contributed to this story.



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