Middleton Takes Over After Giannis Injury
The best team in the regular season will not go out quietly.
After falling to a 0-3 deficit, the Milwaukee Bucks, despite losing reigning league MVP and DPOY Giannis Antetokounmpo early, pulled out a massive 118-115 win in OT against Miami on Sunday.
Here are the key takeaways from Game 4 of Bucks-Heat.
1. Middleton steps up
Khris Middleton put the team on his back in Game 4, playing 48 minutes and finishing with 36 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and icing the game with a clutch 3 from deep and two critical free-throws late.
Middleton joined legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players with 35 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists in a playoff game in Bucks franchise history.
He scored 21 points in the 3rd quarter alone, etching his name for another franchise record.
He made all of his free-throws and shot 42.9 percent from the field and from behind the arc in a must-win game for Milwaukee.
2. Giannis makes an early exit
Giannis Antetokounmpo re-aggravated his right ankle injury in the second quarter while driving to the basket against the Heat’s Bam Adebayo, twisting his ankle as he landed on the floor.
He was able to shoot his two free throws, but then departed for the locker room.
By half-time, Antetokounmpo was ruled out for the remainder of Game 4.
He registered 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting with 4 rebounds, a steal and a block in 11 minutes before going down.
Heading into the matchup, Giannis' -15.8 net rating was the worst on his team through the first three games in the series.
3. Officiating continues to come up
We had another controversial call in Game 4, once again involving Jimmy Butler.
In the closing moments of regulation and with the Bucks up 106-104, Butler appeared to get fouled as the ball went out of bounds, but nothing was called. While the play went to review, because of the way the rule is written, officials can only determine who touched the ball before it went out of bounds, and not whether a foul happened.
Milwaukee was awarded the ball with, despite the foul against Butler appearing to be obvious. Yet after the game, Butler wasn't particularly concerned with the apparent missed call.
Of course, it's not the first time this series that the officiating has come into play, as Butler himself won Game 2 with 2 free throws and no time remaining after what many considered an iffy foul call.
Either way, there will be a Game 5.