Butler, Heat take out top-seeded Bucks in OT stunner

Butler, Heat take out top-seeded Bucks in OT stunner

MILWAUKEE — Less than two weeks ago, the Miami Heat trailed with less than five minutes to go in the final Eastern Conference play-in game against the Chicago Bulls. Back then, it was easy to see a world in which the Heat couldn’t even make the playoffs — and even more challenging to see them pull off one of the biggest upsets in NBA history after doing so.

And yet, that’s exactly what the Heat did Wednesday night, getting 42 points from Jimmy Butler to beat the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks — who entered the postseason as clear favorites to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the second time in three. THE YEAR — A 128-126 overtime loss at Fiserv Forum in Game 5 of this first-round series sent Giannis Antetokounmpo and his teammates crashing into the postseason. Miami advances to face the New York Knicks in the conference semifinals starting Sunday.

In many ways, Game 5 was a repeat of the game the teams played in Miami 48 hours earlier — including a ridiculous comeback to stun the Bucks. While Miami took more control of this game than it did in Game 4, the Bucks were in control for the most part and took a 22-6 lead into the fourth quarter.

But after Milwaukee didn’t score for more than three minutes to start the fourth and didn’t make a field goal for nearly five minutes, Miami slowly clawed itself back into the game — largely because Milwaukee’s offense couldn’t get going. final period.

The Bucks finally got a shot at falling when Jrue Holiday hit a corner 3 with just over 7 minutes left — but wouldn’t get a second until Wesley Matthews hit a triple nearly four minutes later. Meanwhile, Miami, behind another great effort from Butler, chipped away at Milwaukee’s lead until Butler and a -1 layup with 2:34 left made it 111-108 Milwaukee.

After Antetokounmpo missed a short runner at the other end, Butler drained a tying 3-pointer with 2:11 left, with Antetokounmpo and Bam Adebayo turning in buckets at both ends to tie the score.

Then, after Antetokounmpo and Butler both missed clean looks to put their respective teams ahead, Kevin Love was caught in an awkward position and made contact to draw a foul on Khris Middleton, sending Love to the bench with his sixth foul and giving Milwaukee a 115-run victory. . 113 lead after Middleton made the next two free throws.

Butler then got a clean look from 3-point range — roughly the same spot from which he rose with roughly the same amount of time on the clock in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics last season — to give Miami the lead. But, just like that shot last season, he missed.

However, the game was not over. After Holiday hit a pair of free throws to give Milwaukee a four-point lead, Gabe Vincent hit a 3-pointer to cut Milwaukee’s lead to one — and then an errant inbounds pass turned into a center court jump ball with 6 seconds left. After a challenge, it was determined that Kyle Lowry did not foul on the play.

After Brook Lopez won a jump ball, Antetokounmpo nearly threw it away, only for Middleton to save it on Holiday, who was fouled with 2.1 seconds left. But Holiday went 1-for-2 from the foul line, giving Miami the ball on 2nd down, once again, with a chance to tie or win.

This time, Butler caught Vincent’s lob pass and somehow put the ball in the basket with 0.5 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

In the extra session, Milwaukee’s offense continued to stall. Antetokounmpo went 3-for-9 from the foul line in the fourth quarter and overtime, and the Bucks pulled Milwaukee within two with 59 seconds left until a field goal in overtime.

But after a missed jumper by Vincent gave the Bucks a chance to tie or win the game in the final moments, Milwaukee failed to get a shot off — with both timeouts remaining but not used — and the Heat sent the Bucks home to celebrate on Milwaukee’s home court. was done.

The Bucks were consensus favorites to win the NBA title at sportsbooks entering the playoffs. Milwaukee was about a -1,200 favorite to beat Miami in their opening round series.

Milwaukee losing this series is an upset on a scale that few others in NBA history can approach. The Seattle SuperSonics were heavy favorites when the Denver Nuggets beat them in 1995, but it was a five-game series. The Bulls were heavy favorites in the first round of the 2012 playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers, but that series changed irrevocably when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the final minutes of Game 1.

The best comparison is the 2007 Dallas Mavericks, who lost in six games to the “We Believe” version of the Golden State Warriors. But even that Golden State team won the season series with Dallas and matched up well with the 67-win Mavs.

Ultimately, however, the exact placement of this series on such a list does not matter. What does, however, is that the top seed in the East — and the favorite to win the title — has seen its season end much sooner than expected in spectacular fashion.

This report used information from ESPN’s David Purdom.

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Memphis guard Desmond Benn and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James react after a foul call during the first half of Game 5 of their NBA playoff series at the FedExForum on April 26, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Petre Thomas/USA TODAY Sports)

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