Depleted Heat try to slow Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

November 29, 2023 5:06 am

[Source: Deadspin]

The Miami Heat will play host to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night in their last group-stage game of the NBA’s in-season tournament.

Milwaukee (3-0 in the tournament) would win the East Group B with a victory on Tuesday. If Miami (2-1) wins and the New York Knicks (2-1) defeat the Charlotte Hornets, it would come down to point differential over the four games.

The Bucks are coming off a 108-102 win over visiting Portland. Milwaukee rallied from a 26-point deficit — the Bucks’ biggest comeback in more than a decade.

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Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo posted 33 points, 16 rebounds and six assists. He also had the tie-breaking tip-in with 18.5 seconds left.

Antetokounmpo ended that search, and now he will try to get the Bucks to advance in the tournament.

One problem for the Bucks is the absence of three-time All-Star forward Khris Middleton due to tendinitis in his left foot. He missed the Portland game, and he is listed as questionable for the Miami game.

With Middleton out on Sunday, Milwaukee started Andre Jackson Jr., and the rookie second-rounder went scoreless in 12 minutes.

Of course, the Bucks usually have plenty of scoring with their pair of seven-time All-Stars Damian Lillard and Antetokounmpo.

In addition, centre Brook Lopez — even at the advanced NBA age of 35 — can still produce in a big way. He proved that on Friday, when he matched his career-high with 39 points in a win over Washington.

Miami also has outstanding players, particularly Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. However, none of them played in a 112-97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday and Butler (ankle) and Herro (ankle) have been ruled out for Tuesday’s game.

Also, the Heat listed forward Haywood Highsmith (lower back) as questionable for Tuesday’s game and Adebayo (left hip) and forward Duncan Robinson (right thumb) as probable.

Those are Miami’s four leading scorers, averaging a combined 80.8 points per game.

Despite the loss to the Nets, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he was pleased with his squad’s effort.

Of the remaining Heat players, the leading scorer is 22-year-old rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr., who is averaging 11.2 points.

A first-round pick out of UCLA, Jaquez hasn’t been shy, ranking fifth on the team in shots per game. He is shooting 50.7 percent from the floor, 40 percent on 3-pointers and 82.4 percent on free throws.

Still, without Butler, Adebayo, Herro and Robinson, it’s hard to imagine Miami snapping its two-game losing streak that includes a 100-98 loss at the New York Knicks on Friday. In that game, Miami blew a 21-point lead.