Heat Put It On The Bucks

Miami 105 Milwaukee 89

Jim Rome
March 03, 2020 - 11:03 am
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bam Adebayo

USA Today

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When the Miami Heat brought in Andre Iguodala, it was a smart move for a team that had overachieved in the first part of the season. The expectation was that with his arrival, they were loading up to make a run at the two-seed in the East and then a deep postseason run.

Except they went through a stretch in February where they went 2-7 and that included losses to teams like Atlanta, Cleveland, and Minnesota. Sure, some of those losses came as part of a West Coast swing and injuries did play a role, but a team with the expectations of a deep playoff run usually doesn’t lose five games to sub .500 teams in February.

And it wasn’t just that Miami was losing, it was how they were losing. They looked like they didn’t give a damn on defense. They weren’t playing with that requisite HEAT, “HEAT” and no one could consistently make a shot late when it mattered. What I’m saying is, it was bad. Really bad. 

So bad, that after their loss to Minnesota last week that Goran Dragic said “The playoffs are around the corner and it’s just frustrating because it feels like we’re not the same as we were the first half of the season and something needs to happen. We need to fix this ship quickly and try to figure out. Because with this kind of game, we don’t have a chance in the playoffs.”

Then, beat Dallas on Friday and Brooklyn on Saturday and maybe, just maybe you could convince yourself that they were on the verge of turning the corner. But the real test was going to come against the Bucks in Miami.

And you can go ahead and consider that test passed.

Miami 105
Milwaukee 89

That was one hell of a performance. Held the Bucks below 90 for the first time all year and held Giannis to 13 points. Not for a quarter. For the game.

Nobody has been able to slow this Bucks team, let alone stop them, but Miami just did. And they just became the first team to beat Milwaukee twice this season.

In a league loaded with young superstars, guys like Zion and Ja, who are coming through with one highlight reel play after another, the Miami Heat aren’t exactly the spiciest team around. I mean, they do break out the sick Miami Vice jerseys, which is the best look in the league, but they aren’t looking to dazzle you. They’re not looking to beat you with style points. 

They’re just looking to beat you. And frustrate you. And that’s exactly what they did to the Bucks last night.

The defense that had been missing for a while, was there last night.  

And, if you aren’t familiar with Bam Adebayo at this point, how the hell aren’t you familiar with Bam Adebayo at this point. The guy is an all-star. And a beast. And if you aren’t familiar with him, get with his program:

Erasing Brook Lopez from behind on that play and just erasing Giannis in general. Giannis was 1 for 10 when Bam was his primary defender. 1 for 10. That is unheard of. Nobody locks up Giannis like that, but Bam did.  

And then check this team defense as they shut down yet another Milwaukee possession.

That is why they added Andre Igoudala – for a matchup like this. When you run Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala, and Bam Adebayo at Giannis, you have a chance to stop him. Especially when you’re bringing the toughness, the intensity, and the physicality that Miami brought last night.

As Giannis said: "The Heat, they're a team that plays hard. It's not just hard for me, it's hard for everybody. They just move the ball so much, they move their bodies, they just play hard."

But rather than having me tell you, how about I show you? Because that physicality doesn’t just show up on defense, it shows up on offense as well.

Let’s go to the fourth quarter, a little less than five minutes to go and Miami’s Goran Dragic has the ball, working on George Hill. Roll it. 

Oof. That slow-mo replay is some really tough viewing. Dragic absolutely drilled George Hill in the junk. Smashed him. Flat out wrecked him.

Goran – I know the league is recommending that players cut down on high fives, but I don’t think junk shots are a suitable replacement.

You can’t go Bobby Portis and shout “Corona” as you knee a guy in the package and have that be okay.

Damn, that was a hard left knee to the crotch as he was elevating for a shot. Or more accurately, he elevated his knee right into Hill’s junk.

Look, I don’t know if that was malicious or not. You could make the argument that he was clearing space to get off a shot and you could make the counter argument that he was just clearing space in Hill’s groin, and that the groin shot was the shot. I sure wouldn’t have had a problem if Dragic was called for an offensive foul on that.

It sure didn’t seem like Giannis thought it was an accident because he made sure to deck Dragic on the way back down the court.

And that is just an appetizer because if these two teams meet in the playoffs, there will be a lot more of this. If they’re getting chippy, and issuing package blasts and Miami has already won the regular season series, can you imagine what a 7 game postseason series would look at feel like? 

And right now, if the seeding hold, they would meet in the second round. To which I say, bring it on. And to which Giannis says: "If we see them in the playoffs, which is a month and a half away from now, we gotta be ready.” You do. And you better bring your cups, because if you don’t, you’re just asking to get your junk exploded. Especially if Dragic is on the floor; and looking to create a little extra space.