With all-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo watching from the bench, the Milwaukee Bucks season came to an end, falling to the Miami Heat 103-94 inside the bubble in Orlando.
The Bucks played some of their best defense of the season, forcing the Heat into 22 turnovers. But they didn’t have enough offensively to win their second straight and force Miami into a game 6. Instead, the Heat won the series four games to one and advance to the Eastern Conference finals against either Boston or Toronto.
The Bucks started strong, leading by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and led by nine at the break. But the Heat outscored Milwaukee 33-18 in the second quarter.
The Bucks fought their way back once again in the third quarter, crawling to within one-point at 57-56 with 9 1/2 minutes left. Then went 6 1/2 minutes without a field goal.
Khris Middleton, who led the Bucks with 23 points, hit just 3 of his 15 field goal attempts in the second half. Donte DiVincenzo got the start for the Bucks with Antetokounmpo out of the lineup. He scored 17 points and came through with another strong defensive showing.
The Bucks inside the bubble, just never looked like the team that left Milwaukee. Now for the second straight season, the Bucks had the best regular season record in the league, but failed to make a trip to the NBA finals each time.
Antetokounmpo is eligible for a super-max extension this offseason that is expected to be worth around $254 million over five years. There’s always the possibility that Giannis could refuse to sign and force the Bucks to trade him. But Giannis told Yahoo Sports after the game that “It’s not happening. That’s not happening.”
“Some see a wall and go in [another direction]. I plow through it. We just have to get better as a team, individually and get right back at it next season.”