(REUTERS) -Jimmy Butler totaled 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and the fifth-seeded Miami Heat used stingy defence to knock the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks out of the playoffs.
The Heat’s 103-94 Game 5 victory on Tuesday (Sept 8) night to win their Eastern Conference semifinal series 4-1 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and favourite to repeat as league MVP, did not play Tuesday after aggravating his sprained right ankle in the first half of Sunday’s Game 4.
Miami awaits the winner of the other Eastern Conference semifinal series between second-seeded Toronto and third-seeded Boston. The Celtics lead 3-2 ahead of Wednesday’s Game 6.
For the Bucks, it is a stunningly premature playoff exit after posting the NBA’s best regular-season record. The Heat, meanwhile, became the 140th team in 140 tries to win an NBA playoff series after building a 3-0 lead.
Miami held the Bucks to 36.3-percent shooting, including a third-quarter drought that lasted more than six minutes. That’s the stretch when the Heat created distance for good, with a three-pointer by Jae Crowder giving Miami a game-high 12-point lead (68-56) at the 3:07 mark of the period.
In the fourth quarter, the Bucks trimmed the Heat’s advantage to 91-87 when Brook Lopez threw down an alley-oop dunk with 2:05 to play. But Butler answered with two free throws and Goran Dragic hit a high-arching jumper on the ensuing possession to maintain Miami’s edge.
Another two free throws by Butler with 46.7 seconds to play extended the Heat’s lead to 97-88 and all but sealed the win.
Rookie Tyler Herro finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists off the bench for the Heat. Dragic added 17 points and four rebounds, while Crowder scored 16 points, grabbed six rebounds and made four three-pointers.
Khris Middleton finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but shot just 8-for-25 and eventually fouled out. Donte DiVincenzo scored 17 points and hit three three-pointers. Lopez recorded 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Miami overcame a sloppy start. The Heat committed six first-quarter turnovers and shot 7 of 18 in the period, helping the Bucks build a 13-point advantage en route to a nine-point lead at the end of the period.
But the game shifted in the second quarter. The Heat outscored the Bucks 33-18 in the period and buried six three-pointers.
Miami used a 13-2 spurt to tie the score at 32 on a Kelly Olynyk transition layup at the 8:36 mark. A three-pointer by Herro later broke a 37-37 tie and sparked an 8-0 Heat spurt to stretch the lead to 45-37 with less than five minutes to play in the half.
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