The Miami Heat completes historical upset against the Milwaukee Bucks
The eighth-seed Miami Heat won series over top-seed Milwaukee Bucks, 4–1, behind great performances from Jimmy Butler.
When Tyler Herro broke his right hand in game one and announced that he would undergo surgery, many National Basketball Association fans, including me, thought that the Miami Heat’s season would soon come to an end. One man, however, refused to give in, extended the series, and eventually led the Heat to win their first-round matchup. His name is Jimmy Butler.
After the Heat took a 2-1 series lead in Miami, the Bucks sought to regain control as the two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo returned to their lineup in game four. The Bucks were seemingly in charge for the bulk of game four, enjoying a 12-point lead with six minutes left in the game, until the Heat woke up and responded with a 13–0 run to force a full timeout from Bucks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer. Both teams traded buckets for a couple minutes after the break before Butler, who scored 22 points in the first quarter, crafted another 7-point run of his own with one tough bucket after another and closed the game out. Butler totaled a career-high 56 points in the effort — most in the Heat’s franchise history, and also tying for the fourth best scoring record in all NBA playoffs games.
Butler’s epic performance in game four stood out for obvious reasons, but one major reason was his efficiency. He finished the game making 19 of his 28 shots — 68% accuracy from the field. Aside from the 22 points scored in the first quarter, the Miami star also registered 19 points in the final five minutes of the game. It would not be an overstatement to say that Butler single-handedly lifted the Heat over the Bucks.
The Butler sensation did not end in game five in Milwaukee. He tallied another 42-point scoring contribution, shooting 52% from the field. The Bucks, like game four, stayed in control for the majority of game five and had a 14-point lead going into the final quarter. Butler stepped up yet again in the final minutes as the Heat inched closer — taking it down to a two-point deficit with 2.1 seconds left on the game clock. The Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra used a full timeout and appointed guard Gabe Vincent to execute the throw-in pass. As the official handed Vincent the ball, Butler and Max Strus ran a cross-screen action looking to force a mismatch. The Bucks stuck to their defensive setting, having the agile pick-and-roll defender Jrue Holiday chase Butler off and leaving the athletic, long-armed Pat Connaughton under the rim. Everything looked right as Butler ran into Connaughton, who put his hand up and made the catch extremely difficult — Butler somehow controlled the ball as he lost balance and fell mid-air, whipped the ball up, and made the game-tying layup.
Both teams entered overtime in the crucial game five. While three free throws from the Bucks all-star shooting guard Khris Middleton and an Antetokounmpo layup gave the homecourt fans some hope, a late foul gifted Strus another two points from the charity stripe and made it a four-point game again. Milwaukee did have a chance to bring the game to a second overtime or to even win the game with the final 5.1 seconds left, but a sloppy final possession ended the Bucks’ season.
The Heat completed a historical upset as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, eliminating the top-seed Milwaukee Bucks, who also sported the best regular-season record in the NBA. The Miami squad became the sixth NBA team to upset the number-one seed in the first round and did so after nearly losing the play-in game against Chicago to secure the playoff spot — leading critics to name this as the greatest upset in the history. With Herro injured early in the series, Butler put the Heat up on his shoulders, averaging an unbelievable 37.6 points per game with near-60 shooting percentage. They take on the New York Knicks, led by Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett, in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The South Florida team seeks to continue their quest for another Finals run after failing to take home the trophy in the 2020 season.