The Miami Heat continued their three-game road trip with a pit stop in Milwaukee Saturday night against the Bucks. The defending champs would be without former Marquette star Dwyane Wade (hamstring) and former Buck Ray Allen (stomach flu). Despite spraining his ankle against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, Giannis Antetokounmpo came off the bench for the Bucks while O.J. Mayo sat out against because of an ankle injury he sustained earlier in the week.
Both of these teams started off the game shooting poorly from the field. At the end of the first, Miami shot a putrid 26% from the field, while Milwaukee shot 33%. “We struggled offensively, that was our biggest problem in particularly the first half. We were just not sharp from an offensive standpoint.” Coach Larry Drew said.
The Heat started the game 0-for-5 from the field, 0-for-3 from three, and 0-for-2 from the line (Lebron James missed a pair). Their first basket as a team came with 8:59 left in the first quarter when Chris Bosh made two free-throws. D.J. Stephens made his NBA debut in the second quarter. Stephens, currently on a 10-day contract with Milwaukee, finished with five points and four rebounds in 12 minutes of play.
“It definitely felt good being able to get my feet wet a little bit. It’s my first NBA game, so I was out there nervous the whole time, but I just tried to go out there and compete, play hard, play defense, do what I do on offense and just see what would happen.” Stephens said after the game.
At halftime, the Heat led Milwaukee 46-29 even though LeBron only managed to score four points.
Despite his low point total, James still managed to facilitate the floor effectively and play aggressive. “He has that ability to get more aggressive or turn it up,” Drew said. “It makes their offense that much more effective because you can’t just zero in on him because he will pick you apart." Chris Bosh came through for the Heat by adding 12 points and pulling down five rebounds.
The sluggish play of both teams carried on into the second half with Milwaukee shooting 33% at the end of three, and Miami shooting 43%. The third was a nice quarter for LeBron James, as he scored nine points for the Heat. “When he’s in that type mode, he’s that much tougher to defend. He has the ability to get more aggressive, which he did in the third quarter.” Larry Drew said. James finished the night tied with a season-low 13 points while grabbing seven rebounds, but also committed four turnovers. Miami shifted to cruise control in the fourth as they sat him for most of the quarter.
The Heat completed their three-game road trip with tonight’s 88-67 win and will head back to Miami as they prepare to play the Toronto Raptors on Monday. For the Bucks, they will head back on the road to face the Detroit Pistons – who the Philadelphia 76ers defeated Saturday to snap their 26-game losing streak – on Monday. Milwaukee scored a season-low 67 points tonight and luckily were one point above the NBA league-low for points in a game this season.