The Milwaukee Bucks were without star Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 2 against the Miami Heat, however still returned to form. They evened their 2023 NBA Playoffs first round series with a dominating 138-122 win, controlling the game from start to finish. The Bucks shot 53.5% from the field, including an incredible 51% from the 3-point line. They drilled 25 3-pointers on 49 attempts, tying an NBA record for 3-pointers made in a game. A 46 point 2nd quarter fueled the victory, essentially putting the game out of reach. The Bucks’ largest lead was 36 at one point, and they certainly proved they know how to win with or without Antetokounmpo. Individual performances across the board exemplified the stellar depth across their roster.
Jrue Holiday posted a double-double with 24 points and 11 assists, while Brook Lopez poured in 25 points of his own. The second unit was anchored by two big performances from guys’ with polar opposite playoff experience. Veteran Joe Ingles was 5/6 from the 3-point line on his way to 17 points; meanwhile, Pat Connaughton had a playoff career-high 22 points on 6/10 shooting from beyond the arc after not seeing a single minute in Game 1. Overall, the Bucks had an extremely well-rounded effort to take Game 2 and even the series. They now look ahead to Game 3 and a two-game trip to Miami. With that being said, here are 3 bold Bucks predictions for Game 3 of their first round 2023 NBA Playoffs series against the Miami Heat.
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*Stats via ESPN
The Milwaukee Bucks hit 25 shots from long range again
The Milwaukee Bucks were fourth in 3-point makes and 3-point attempts in the regular season, and are so far first through 2 games in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. The sample size is definitely small for the playoffs, but expect the Bucks to continue chucking them up from long range. Also expect them to put forth a performance more reminiscent of Game 2 then Game 1, as the Bucks have shown to be an above average 3-point shooting team more often than not. After Game 3, the Bucks will have made 25 3-pointers again.
There is still no word on whether Giannis Antetokounmpo will play in Game 3, but the formula was established in Game 2 if not. If he does play, this won’t stop the Bucks from shooting, likely leading to more 3-point attempts in fact. The Bucks know they are a much better team than the Miami Heat, and Game 2 should give them the confidence to continue their style of play. With or without their star forward from Greece, they will mimic their game-plan from Game 2 and end up making a staggering 25 shots from behind the perimeter in Game 3.
The Miami Heat regress to the mean on offense
In the regular season, the Miami Heat were somehow last in the NBA at 109.5 points per game. The two teams ahead of them were the Detroit Pistons and the Houston Rockets, the 1st and 2nd worst records in the NBA. However, the Heat are averaging 126.0 points per game so far in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, albeit in just two games. This is good for 2nd best out of all postseason teams remaining, behind the first place Bucks. Game 3 will see the Bucks stifle the Heat, as Miami regresses to the mean performance of their offense during the regular season.
The Heat are shooting 56.5% from the field and 50.3% from the 3-point line against the Bucks, which is just not a sustainable trend for a team that simply does not score the ball well. Those marks were 46.0% and 34.8% respectively in the regular season, and should be expected for the rest of this series. The Heat will be much more like themselves in Game 3, partly because it is just who they are, and partly because the Bucks will be intense on the defensive end. As the Bucks unsurprisingly continue to score the ball with ease, the Heat will put forth a much more typical Miami performance in Game 3.
Giannis returns, drops a triple-double
Despite being one of the best players on the planet, a two-time NBA MVP, and an NBA Champion, Giannis Antetokounmpo is still one of the most competitive players in the NBA. Although the Bucks can most likely win this series without him, not being out there in the first round is undoubtedly killing him. If Giannis can play, he is going to play, and in Game 3, that will be the case. Not only will he play, but the Greek Freak is going to drop a triple-double against the Miami Heat to make up for missed time so far in the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
Antetokounmpo could end up winning his third NBA MVP for his regular season play, although it is unlikely a priority for him. He has shown time and again that his number one priority is being the best player he can be for himself and his teammates, and the constant pursuit of greatness is what drives him. This is going to propel him to suit up in Game 3, and he will dominate the Miami Heat. The Heat have been lucky enough to avoid him so far, and he is going make them pay. After posting a triple-double in Game 3, Giannis Antetokounmpo will officially reintroduce himself to the NBA and the 2023 NBA Playoffs.