Miami Heat Take 2-0 Lead in Eastern Conference Semifinals

Sydney Campbell and Jack Meyer

The Eastern Conference Semifinals have proven to be one of the most tightly contested playoff series’ this year so far. The Miami Heat nearly gave up a six-point lead in the final minutes of game two on Wednesday night, but prevailed and managed to secure a crucial win, giving them a 2-0 lead in the series. 

With 4.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the score tied at 114, Miami’s Jimmy Butler tried to put up a game winning jump shot, but the ball bounced off the rim, leading to the clock expiring. For a brief moment, it appeared the game was heading to overtime. But then a whistle blew. 

It soon became clear that Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo had fouled Butler, who was sent to the free throw line. Butler’s teammates squatted behind Butler at mid-court in anticipation of the free throws that would determine the outcome of the game. 

Butler’s first attempt just barely made it in, which officially secured the Heat victory. He then proceeded to make the second one, putting a cherry on top of a monumental 116-114 win. This win made the Heat the first No. 5 seed in NBA history to hold a 2-0 series lead over a No. 1 seed. 

The Heat had seven players score in double digits, which set a franchise record. Goran Dragic led the Heat in scoring with 23 points, Tyler Herro chipped in with 17 points, and Jae Crowder provided 16 of the Heat’s 116 points. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk added 11 points while making three of his four three-point attempts, Bam Adebayo racked up 15 points and nine rebounds before fouling out and Butler and Duncan Robinon had 13 points each while combining for five steals. 

Antetokounmpo had 29 of the Buck’s 114 points, but missed two crucial free throws near the end of the game. Khris Middleton scored 23, securing three of those points in the final seconds of the game on a controversial play. The refs called a foul on Dragic while Middleton shot a three pointer, but the commentators for the game noted that the replay showed that Dragic kept his hands up and did not initiate contact with Middleton; however, the call stood, and Middleton made all three of his free throws, setting up the stage for Jimmy Butler’s game winning free throws. 

Fouling on threes was an issue for the Heat this game. Within a 26 second span during the first quarter, Miami fouled Buck’s Brook Lopez on two of his 3-point tries, where he made two of three free throws on the first one and turned the second into a four-point play. However, the Heat themselves shot well from the three-point line, with 51 of their 116 points coming from the three-ball. 

The Heat also played a strong game on defense, with each member of the starting lineup racking up a steal and four players walking away with at least two steals (Dragic, Crowder, Butler and Robinson). While the Heat did struggle to contain Antetokounmpo, who scored 29 points on 10-18 shooting, their defensive effort was enough to hold on to their victory against the Bucks. The Heat will look to continue to shock the NBA and extend their series lead to 3-0 on Friday night at 6:30 PM.