Milwaukee got out to a quick start but couldn’t sustain it in a 115-104 loss to Miami in Game 1 of its second-round NBA series.
The Bucks jumped out to a 40-29 at the end of the first quarter but they managed just 46 points over the next two quarters and trailed by six entering the final period. There, Jimmy Butler and Miami pulled away to take the opening game. The former Marquette star had 15 of his game-high 40 points in the final period.
Coach Mike Budenholzer’s club got standout efforts from Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez in the first half. The two combined for 40 points to help keep Milwaukee up at the break. Giannis Antetokounmpo had nine points, four rebounds and four assists.
After the break, though, Lopez dealt with foul trouble, limiting him to just five points in the second half. Middleton’s shot came up cold, going just 3-for-10 in the third and fourth quarters (12 for 24 overall). He finished with a team-high 28 points.
Antetokounmpo never really got going offensively, taking just 12 shots. He ended up with 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists but also turned the ball per a team-high six times. He also really struggled from the free throw line, going only 4-for-12.
In addition to Butler, Miami got 27 points from Goran Dragic and 11 from West Allis, Wis., product Tyler Herro.
Milwaukee played without starting guard Eric Bledsoe. He missed the game with a strained hamstring suffered in Game 5 of the first-round series against Orlando. An important piece of the Bucks defense, Bledsoe was listed as questionable going into the game, so the injury may not be serious.
This is the second straight year Milwaukee lost the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bucks fell to Boston last season in Game 1 and then ran off four straight victories to advance.
Game 2 is slated for Wednesday night.