Bucks' Antetokounmpo back for game against Heat (Jan 13, 2017)
MILWAUKEE -- Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to be back in the Milwaukee Bucks' starting lineup Friday when they host the Miami Heat at the Bradley Center.
Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee's leader in every major offensive statistical category, sat out the Bucks' game Sunday against the Wizards and played just nine minutes Wednesday against the Spurs because of an illness.
But Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said that Antetokounmpo was back to full strength and went through practice Thursday with no issues.
With Antetokounmpo out, the Bucks got a full dose of reserve Michael Beasley's best. The nine-year veteran scored 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the loss to Washington, then followed that up with a season-high 28 against San Antonio, to go along with five rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a pair of steals.
And more important for the Bucks, he was a stabilizing presence on the floor down the stretch, as Milwaukee held on for a 109-107 victory.
"It says that I've been here before," Beasley said. "I work on those shots every day, before and after practice. I come here (to the Cousins Center) at night."
"They've got to understand their pace and can't be in a rush," Kidd said. "And it's not just from Beasley but from other closers in this league.
"It's understanding pace and rhythm is a big thing, and not rushing. Those are the things young players struggle with early."
Milwaukee struggled in its last meeting with the Heat, scoring just 73 points on 32 percent shooting back on November 18. The Bucks managed just 25 second-half points and only 11 in the final quarter.
Dion Waiters scored 23 points in that game to lead Miami while Hassan Whiteside added 12 points with 17 rebounds.
The game wraps up a six-game road trip for Miami, which has dropped three in a row and nine of its last 10.
The Heat led Golden State at halftime Wednesday and got within three in the final minutes before falling 107-95 to the defending Western Conference champions.
"We're not looking for moral victories," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We're looking to get better and improve every single day. The tough thing on this road trip is you have to step back and really evaluate, which I'm not able to do right now. I'm still emotional about the game. But you can see our basketball team is getting better."
The Heat had a rough arrival in Milwaukee. Freezing rain fell on the area Wednesday night, leaving the runway at Mitchell International Airport slick. Miami's charter flight skidded while taxiing to the terminal, requiring an emergency response and a tow for the plane.
Nobody was injured in the incident.
"Could have been worse. Thank God it wasn't," Miami guard Wayne Ellington Tweeted after the incident.
The Bucks have won six of their last eight meetings with the Heat, including three of the last four meetings at the Bradley Center.