Middleton resurfaces, Bucks survive without Antetokounmpo

The Bucks prevailed after a dramatic overtime. Middleton scored 34 points to keep his comeback dream alive.

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A full-fledged claim. The Bucks are still alive against all odds and when everything seemed to be turning against them. Giannis Antetokounmpo reached the fourth game of the tie limping his right ankle. Despite this, the Athenian decided to force the dangerous situation that his team had to face. However, when just 2 minutes had elapsed into the second quarter, the Greek twisted his injured ankle again in a basket drive. Giannis screamed in a disconsolate way aware that his match was over. The worst omens were confirmed and losing the tie in 4 games seemed an increasingly real option.

The Bucks were undaunted and in a stroke of pride, accompanied by a remarkable basketball, they left 2 up after the first 24 minutes of play. With Giannis on the court, the Bucks had again suffered the same problem of the first 3 stakes of the tie. Excessive and even abusive reliance on the Athenian power forward's state of form and success, both in defense and attack.

The statistics for the first quarter speak for themselves. Miami left with 9 points of advantage, having received only 22, of which 14 had been the work of Giannis. The '34' had signed a 6 of 8 in field goals and had scored the only triple he had tried. What's more, no other player on his team had managed to score from the perimeter. The offensive poverty of the rest of Budenholzer's roster was such that the remaining 8 points were shared between 4 players. Despite this, it was not the best quarter of Spoelstra's props either and only Adebayo was erected with 10 points and a 66.7% accuracy rate.

The Bucks' attack start in the second quarter revolutionized the game and adjusted the score. 8-0 partial and 1 in less than 2 minutes. It was Giannis's last work. The Greek added 5 of the 8 points, the last of them from the personnel line with his ankle already shattered. The injury of his star was a point of motivation for that second row of the Bucks so executed. Budenholzer's men established the foundations of a solid zone defense, on which to build a dynamic attack and seek to grow from the perimeter. So it was. Hill, Bledsoe or DiVincenzo appeared at key moments to get the lead on the scoreboard at halftime.

After the resumption, the game became a real runner-up. Both teams tried to give the game rhythm, the accuracy of the goal increased and the shooting percentages increased. Middleton appeared in the Bucks, whom his team had been waiting for since the beginning of the resumption in the bubble. He signed 21 points in the fourth, but his teammates made the same mistake as with Giannis. Relying in excess of their level of success, a reality that they would pay in the last quarter. Crowder from the perimeter and Adebayo fighting through thick and thin in the paint supported Spoelstra's men, who finished the third set with a minimum income of 2 points.

The last quarter started with a clear dominator. That high rate of ball circulation that Spoelstra tries to instill in his team began to find results. Dragic appeared, who despite everything did not complete his best game, and with him, Adebayo and Duncan Robinson, to put the Heat 8 up in the blink of an eye. However, the Bucks reacted with a resounding 12-0 in 3 minutes, a partial in which Brook López scored 8 of the 12 points, and the Wisconsin team was 4 points higher, equaling their highest income in the game.

The last 3 minutes were very poor in attack for both teams, they barely added 10 points between the 2. A triple by Tyler Herro with 58 seconds to go put the Heat one ahead and put Spoelstra's team within a stone's throw of the final of Conference. However, the party still had a long way to go. DiVincenzo went to the personnel line with just 1.9 seconds remaining, but was only able to make one of two free throws. Tie on the scoreboard.

Miami could introduce in the tie the only ingredient that had been missing in the first 3 stakes. The epic. However, Goran Dragic missed from the perimeter and the match was doomed to be resolved in extra time. In the decisive 5 minutes, Middleton resurfaced, not scoring a single point in the final quarter, to lead the Bucks in attack and score 9 of his team's 11 points.

His was a triple that with 7 seconds to go put the leaders of the East 4 up. Herro threatened again from the perimeter with another brilliant triple with 3 seconds remaining, he had scored the decisive one in the fourth quarter and one just 20 seconds ago, but Middleton responded immediately from the personnel line. Miami had one last agonizing attack, but an imprecise Iguodala and an accurate defense of Budenholzer's men prevented the end of the play.

The miracle was already a fact. The author had a name and surname. Middleton finished the game with 36 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, doubling his scoring averages so far in the playoffs. Mission impossible was no longer so difficult. The Bucks are still alive. We will see until when. Anteto's injury does not invite optimism and the reality is that it is difficult to propose a return of the Athenian in the short term. But the goal is accomplished, the Bucks continue to dream. Ahead the difficult mission of being the first team to come back from 3-0 in NBA history, after 139 failed attempts. A challenge. In the early hours of Tuesday to Wednesday (00:30 Spanish time), Miami will once again have the opportunity to close the series and the Bucks to keep the goal of the comeback intact.



Photos from as.com
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