There was no loud celebration. No fuss, no big party on the pitch when the final horn sounded and Milwaukee officially defeated their playoff loss to Miami last season.
Put simply, the Bucks expected to win.
And the last four games have shown exactly why.
The Bucks-Heat rematch was a mismatch and Milwaukee became the first team to advance to this season’s playoffs by beating Miami 120-103 on Saturday to complete a 4-0 first-round sweep. Brook Lopez scored 25 points, Bryn Forbes scored 22 and Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double – 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists – for Milwaukee.
“Obviously it’s a great moment for us and winning 4-0, beating the team that beat us last year, it feels good,” said Antetokounmpo. “But at the end of the day, we have a long way to go.”
Khris Middleton had 20, Bobby Portis 13 and Jrue Holiday 11 for Milwaukee, who edged Miami 24 in the second half.
Bam Adebayo scored 20 points and took 14 rebounds for Miami, which had 18 points from Kendrick Nunn, 14 from Tyler Herro, 13 from Goran Dragic and a triple-double – 12 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists -om Jimmy Butler.
“We take our hat off to the Bucks organization,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They were a great team last year and they’ve improved on that. Whether or not we participated in this improvement, it does not matter. They took their game collectively to another level. They beat us for a reason.
The Heat became the second team in this playoff format to go from first-round sweep one year to first-round sweep the following year. The only other team to endure this were the then-New Jersey Nets, who swept New York in 2004 and lost 4-0 to Miami in 2005.
Once Milwaukee won the first three games, history said the outcome was inevitable. NBA teams with a 3-0 lead in the series are now 141-0 in those clashes, these Bucks becoming the 88th of those teams to end things with a sweep.
Their reward: a week off, at least.
The third-seeded Bucks won’t play again until at least next Saturday. Their Eastern semifinals series against second-seeded Brooklyn or seventh-seeded Boston will begin on June 5 if the Nets advance to five games; in any other scenario, the Bucks will play the next time around on June 7.
“We still have a long way to go,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It’s the first round of the playoffs. I think there has to be some humility, a humility, an attitude or a state of mind to get better. We advanced to the first round. Whoever we play next, we have to have the same goal, a similar advantage, the willingness to play with each other, to play together, all of the things that we just did. It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t continue to do so in the future.
After a pair of Milwaukee fights by 63 combined points in Games 2 and 3, this one immediately took on a different feel.
The Heat – who were leading 9-2 shortly after Game 1 started and hadn’t even enjoyed such a big margin in the final 136 minutes and 8 seconds of basketball leading up to Game 4 to start – a got the jump early. A pair of Duncan Robinson’s free throws with 3:48 left in the first quarter gave Miami a 20-12 lead, their biggest lead in the series, and Heat’s margin would eventually reach up to 12 in the first. semester.