HEAT 101 - Bucks 95 Recap

“On the road, any way you win it, you take it.”

That’s Dwyane Wade with the universal truth after the Miami HEAT’s 101-95 overtime victory against the Milwaukee Bucks.

But how about winning a game not only on the road, to extend a winning streak to eight, but when the team shoots 39 percent, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James shoot 18-of-58 (31 percent) and Chris Douglas Roberts, who averages 7.9 points per game, coming off the bench to drop 30? Not to mention 5-foot-5 Earl Boykins dribbling about for 15 seconds in the games final moments, only to hit a left-handed scoop shot off the glass with three HEAT players around.

Is that something an NBA team might be interested in?

Out of context, the above numbers seem to make this game one of the season’s lowlights, a forgettable affair that the HEAT were fortunate to get away with. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

With the team missing both bunnies and jumpers, and the Bucks contesting every last one of them, this transformed into the grittiest effort of the year. Sure, that perfect, circular bit of narrative was missed when Wade’s possible game winner hit iron with 0.3 left in a brutal shooting night, but the result was more indicative than an easy bit of storytelling.

“It’s always tough to win on the road against a tough team,” Erik Spoelstra said. “And we had to do it in a way that we don’t normally do.

Spoelstra made sure to point out that on a number of occasions, Miami could have put things away with a run. For that, credit is due the Bucks for making even the shortest look uncomfortable.

“I told them during timeouts, ‘We weren’t going to win this offensively,’” he added. “We were going to have to win it to our identity, and do it ugly. That’s what we’re supposed to do, get stops and rebounds.”

So, after a five and a half minute scoring drought in the fourth quarter, including a pair of out-of-frustration technical fouls against Wade and Mario Chalmers, the HEAT got to doing it ugly. They ceased looking to the refs when the Bucks made contact around the game, and made contact of their own, creating loose balls, diving to the floor and playing through the whistle.

“It ends up becoming a game of will, loose balls and big plays going down the stretch,” Spoelstra said. “They made a lot of them.

“We made enough to pull away and grind out a tough game.”

Over the final three minutes of regulation, the Bucks committed two turnovers and scored four points, the latter two coming from Boykins’ improbable floater dropped through the net.

As overtime began with James nailing a fading shot from the left wing, it seemed the law of averages was set to play in the HEAT’s favor. But their next five jumpers? Bricks.

“We gutted it out,” Spoelstra said.

And they did so to the rattling, shrill tune of three forced turnovers in bonus time, holding the Bucks to two field goals and four points on 2-of-7 shooting, Carlos Arroyo sealing the win with a layup created off a turnover followed by a pair of free throws.

“We showed our grit, we showed our toughness,” Wade said.

He added that in ugly, rhythmless games such as this, the sort that pervade throughout the playoffs, you simply have to find a way to win. And nothing says more about the HEAT than their ability to do so in every which way, fast or slow, hot or cold, home or away.

Because rarely do things go perfectly on the road, but with a 12-game winning streak away from Miami, the HEAT are proving to be that rare team that can will itself into a game no matter what the circumstances. And lately, once they’re in it, eventually they take it.