The Miami Heat got trounced by the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of their first round series of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. The final score was 138-122 in a game that the Heat found themselves down by 36 at one point. The Bucks were lights out from the field, making 25 3-pointers to tie an NBA record for most made 3's in a game. They were led by big performances from guys off the bench; Joe Ingles had 17 points on 5/6 shooting from beyond the arc, while Pat Connaughton had a playoff career-high with 22 points on 6/10 shooting from long range. The Bucks were without star Giannis Antetokounmpo, but it proved irrelevant in an extremely well-rounded team win.
For the Heat, they will look to bounce back in Game 3 and put forth a performance more reminiscent of Game 1. The Heat took Game 1 130-117 behind a huge performance from star Jimmy Butler. Butler had a double-double with 35 points and 11 assists, shooting a torrid 15/27 from the field. The Heat unfortunately lost Tyler Herro to a broken hand in Game 1, but he will have a chance to return if Miami makes a miraculous run to the NBA Finals. For now, their focus turns to Game 3 and their first home game of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. With Game 3 in mind, here are three bold predictions for the Heat in the next installment of the first round series against the Bucks.
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*Stats via ESPN
The Miami Heat continue to play well above season averages
The Miami Heat were the lowest scoring team in the NBA this season. Yes, they were lower than the Detroit Pistons, the Houston Rockets, and the San Antonio Spurs. The Heat averaged 109.5 points per game, shooting 46% from the field and 34% from the 3-point line. Meanwhile, two games through the 2023 NBA Playoffs, they are a different offensive team. They are averaging 126.0 points per game with a shooting split of 56.5%-50.8%, an unreal increase from the regular season. Despite the small sample size, they are clearly playing better on the offensive end. In Game 3, they are going to find a way to keep up the gaudy numbers.
Coming back to Miami will be great for the Heat's mentality after a blowout loss, and they will play confidently from the start of the game. Knowing how they are shooting the ball so far, and the pivotal nature of taking a 2-1 lead in increasing the chances of advancing in the NBA Playoffs, the Heat won't be shy on the offensive end. They will make shots early, hence building confidence, and will continue to pour in buckets like they have so far in this series. This scorching offensive stretch might not last forever, but it will at least continue through Game 3 vs. the Bucks.
The Heat hold the Milwaukee Bucks to under 10 3-pointers
The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the NBA, and it was on full display in Game 3. A record-tying 25 3-point makes set the tone in Game 2, and the Bucks are definitely going to try and mimic that style of play in Miami. With or without Giannis, the Bucks will live and die by the three ball like they did in the regular season. They are averaging a whopping 47 3-point attempts through two playoff games, and don't expect to see anything different in Game 3.
While the Bucks will continue to shoot the 3, the Heat are going to do a much better job defending it. They will close out with intensity and feed off a raucous Miami crowd on the defensive end. When the game is coming to a close, the Bucks will be nowhere near the total they posted in Game 2. Once Game 3 ends, the Heat will have held the Bucks to less than 10 3-point makes.
Jimmy Butler has a triple-double
Jimmy Butler is known to be a menace in the NBA Playoffs. He demonstrated his affinity to be a big time player in Game 1, and although he was overshadowed by the loss in Game 2, he still had 25 points on 8/12 shooting. In Game 3, he is going to continue his stellar postseason play and post his best game yet of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. He will post a triple-double in the final stat sheet of Game 3.
Butler will have to continue to play elite basketball if the Miami Heat are going to have any chance of taking this series. The Bucks are a much better team, but Butler showed he can be the best player on the floor. A triple-double would almost guarantee a premiere performance from Butler, and give the Heat a much better chance at taking a 2-1 lead in the series. Regardless of what the outcome of the game is, Butler is going to post another huge line with a triple-double.