The Miami Heat are headed to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2014 after beating the Milwaukee Bucks 103-94 to close their series out at 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out for this one after aggravating his right ankle injury in Game 4, much to his disappointment. But, having watched his teammates rally back to bring the series to 3-1 in his absence following his second-quarter exit in the prior game, must have been hopeful.
Miami started the game looking pretty nervous and hardly took care of the basketball, turning it over six times in the opening quarter. The Bucks went up by as many as 13 points in the period; a 13-2 run saw the Heat tie things up early in the second quarter and Erik Spoelstra’s side ended the half with a six-point advantage.
There was a bit of a stalemate midway through the third, with both teams trading misses for an uncomfortable span. Miami came to life first and stretched their lead to double figures while Milwaukee went for over six minutes without a bucket – but an 8-0 run towards the end of the quarter brought them back to within five.
The Heat entered the fourth ahead by eight courtesy of a three from Tyler Herro.
The Heat kept their foot on the gas and did not repeat the mistakes of the last game as they held their poise to keep Milwaukee at bay. Jimmy Butler hit six key free throws down the stretch, his only points of the fourth. Both Khris Middleton and Donte DiVincenzo fouled out with under a minute to go as the Bucks played the foul game until the end.
The Heat managed to win this one without having a single player lodge 20 points. Butler and Goran Dragic both scored 17 while Jae Crowder added 16. Herro ended his night with 14 points, having made some key plays down the stretch.
Spoelstra and his squad will await the results of the series between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, with the Celtics looking more likely to progress. The Game 6 matchup between the aforementioned sides takes place on Wednesday at 6:30 ET.