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    COLUMN: Giannis must get some help - or else Bucks are going home

    Sep 3, 2020
    spin zone

    CHICAGO - When the Bucks arrived at the NBA bubble on Thursday evening of July 9, they came in with the league's best record and the pregnant promise to deliver Milwaukee's first title since 1971.

    Unfortunately, their top-ranked defense, which has a biting rating of 102.9, did not travel to Orlando.

    And that is why the Bucks are in an 0-2 hole against the Miami Heat. And the signs point to the grim reality that they lack the tools to dig out of this mess.

    As solid favorites in both Games One (-6.5) and Two (-4.5) the Bucks have arguably the best players in the series in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middelton and Brook Lopez, a triple-threat of length and strength.

    But the Heat, led by All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, are a better team. And the stats have reinforced that notion.

    Through two games, Miami has made more field goals, 76-74, more threes, 29-23, and more free throws, 50-47.

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    The rebounding battle was a push at 84-84, but the Heat dished more assists, 43-38, and committed fewer turnovers with 26 against Milwaukee's 33.

    The Bucks are also No. 1 in the NBA in pace with a 105.1 score. They love to run and manufacture easy points off transition. But with the absence of board dominance and the relative scarcity of Miami turnovers, the Bucks lack the fuel for their high-octane offense.

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    As we've seen play out, the scores in Games 1 and 2 were low and the action was slow. Just exactly where the Heat want the Bucks to be; in the muck of a phone booth brawl where Milwaukee can't exploit its superior athleticism.

    With 47 points, 24 rebounds and 12 assists. the Greek Freak has been good. But nowhere near MVP good.

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    The newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year has sank only 16 of 30 field goals, including 2-of-6 from deep. He is taking a bath with eight turnovers while his free throw shooting, 12 misses so far, has become increasingly problematic.


    But he's not getting much outside of Middleton and Lopez, who have a combined average of 45.5 points and 10 rebounds in two games.

    Milwaukee's Big 3 has fired 87 of the team's 160 total field goals, or a 54.3 percent of their offense. This statistic suggests an offense that is bland and predictable.

    Miami, meanwhile, led by Jimmy Butler's 26.5 points average, has all of their starters scoring in double figures. Their starting unit shot only a combined 126 of the Heat's 165 field goals, which represents 76 percent of their offense.

    Obviously, Miami's attack is more communal and versatile. And the Bucks have no answer.

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    "Limit him to half court. so we can shrink the court a little bit," Abedayo told The Miami Herald of the master plan to contain Antetokounmpo.

    Obviously, it's working wonderfully.


      Not only have the Heat exposed Giannis' limitations, they have also suffocated the rest of the deflated, demoralized Bucks.

      Before this showdown began, ESPN's Basketball Power Index gave the Bucks a 69 percent chance to win the series.

      The fortunes have since drastically, brutally changed.

      I now see Miami carrying a 100 percent chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2014.

      Ah, the fickle finger of fate.

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      PHOTO: AP
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