HEAT Eliminate No. 1 Seed Bucks, Advance to Eastern Conference Finals
Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler
For the eighth time in franchise history and the first time since 2014, the HEAT are heading back to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Thanks to a total team effort, Miami defeated the Bucks 103-94 Tuesday night at The Field House in Orlando to take the semifinals series in five. As such, the HEAT also became the lowest seeded team to make it to the ECF since 1999.
Let’s find out how it all went down.
1. Jimmy Ices It
Although Jimmy Butler played pretty well through three quarters, he really made his presence felt in the fourth.
In fact, he continued to attack the basket, drew contact often and hit six key free throws to keep Miami ahead.
Of course, he also dished out some great passes, like this one to Goran Dragić for a clutch jumper that essentially sealed the deal:
Talk about making the right play.
In all, Butler amassed a team-high 17 points (tied with Dragić) on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and a perfect 8-of-8 from the line, a team-high 10 rebounds, a team-high six assists (tied with Tyler Herro) and a steal.
2. Baby Goat Strikes Again
Once again, Herro showed that he was made for big-time moments.
This time around, though, he displayed his budding playmaking skills off the dribble.
After forcing Eric Bledsoe into a miss and hitting Andre Iguodala with a fantastic no-look feed early in the fourth…
…he converted this bucket with contact and the ensuing free throw to give the HEAT a 10-point lead with 6:11 remaining:
And as you can see from that first clip above, Herro really dug in on the defensive end against a bunch of guys.
When it was all said and done, the 20-year-old rookie tallied 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-7 from deep, eight boards, a team-high six assists (tied with Butler), one steal, one block and a game-high plus-23 rating. Yes, plus-23.
3. Crowder Stays Strong on Both Ends
Naturally, Jae Crowder spaced the floor and hit some huge threes for Miami, but his defense on Khris Middleton was perhaps even more important.
For a perfect example of just how tough Crowder made it on him, take a look at this sequence late in the second quarter:
Due to hard-nosed defense like that from Crowder, Iguodala and others, Middleton shot just 8-of-25 from the field, including 2-of-9 from distance.
Crowder ended up with 16 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field (all from downtown) and a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block.
-Kelly Olynyk and Kendrick Nunn provided a huge spark off the bench in the second quarter and helped the HEAT get back in it.
That said, both guys also made some noise later on, as Olynyk came through with this block on Bledsoe to get Herro a three late in the third…
…and Nunn did the same early in the fourth.
Sometimes it’s about the little things.
KO finished with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and a perfect 3-of-3 from the line, six boards, a game-high two blocks (tied with Iguodala, Bledsoe and Wes Matthews) and a plus-22 rating.
Nunn, on the other hand, accumulated six points on 3-of-7 shooting, two rebounds, one assist, one steal, that block above and a plus-14 rating.
-Kyle Alexander, KZ Okpala, Chris Silva (Left Pubic Bone Stress Fracture) and Gabe Vincent were inactive.
-The HEAT will face either the Celtics or Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. Date and time are TBA.