Heat meet Bucks again after game to forget
It's a game the Miami Heat would love to forget and the Milwaukee Bucks don't mind at all reliving.
Last Friday night, the Bucks trailed by 20 points at halftime but recovered to rout the host Heat 113-98. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and finished one assist short of a triple-double, and the Bucks tied the franchise record for biggest second-half comeback.
"It doesn't matter if we're down 20, 15 or 10 - we're still going to play hard," said Antetokounmpo, who also had 16 rebounds and nine assists. "You're going to face adversity when you play on the road."
This Friday night, the Bucks host Miami for a rematch of last week's incredible comeback.
Before last week, the Bucks were 0-77 all-time when trailing by 20 points or more on the road at halftime. But then the Bucks did what they did, becoming the first team in NBA history to win by at least 15 points in a game in which they trailed by 20 or more at intermission.
Heat forward Justise Winslow was emblematic of what happened to Miami last Friday. He scored 20 points in the first half ... and zero after intermission.
"We lost our energy," Winslow said.
Milwaukee outscored Miami by 19 points in the third quarter and took total control in the fourth.
However, since the debacle against the Bucks, the Heat have won three straight games, including road contests at the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
"We're playing as good as a group as we have all season," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "It's fun playing basketball this way."
Winslow missed Wednesday's 110-105 win over the Spurs with a bruised right thigh and is questionable for Friday's game. He is fourth on the Heat in scoring (12.7) and leads Miami in assists (4.3).
Miami also was without wing Rodney McGruder (knee soreness) on Wednesday. McGruder is 12th on the Heat in scoring (7.9) but is a glue-type player defensively.
The Bucks, meanwhile, are truly banged up and competed without seven players - including league MVP candidate Antetokounmpo - in a 107-102 loss to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee's injured list also includes guards Malcolm Brogdon (right foot), George Hill (left groin), Sterling Brown (wrist) and Donte DiVincenzo (heel) as well as post players Pau Gasol (undisclosed) and Nikola Mirotic (left thumb).
Antetokounmpo is the biggest loss, of course. He is averaging 27.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists. The other glaring losses from the active roster are Brogdon, who is fourth on the team in points (15.6) and assists (3.2), and Mirotic, who is averaging 11.6 points and 5.4 rebounds.
The Bucks, however, still have the best record in the NBA at 53-19. Their 25-13 road record is the best in the Eastern Conference.
Miami has struggled at home, compiling a losing record of 17-20, but is 18-16 on the road. Overall, the Heat are 35-36 and woke up Thursday occupying the eighth and final playoff position in the East. If the season ends the same way, they'll meet the Bucks again in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 21, 2019