Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) reacts after scoring during the second half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Miami Heat, Saturday, April 22, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Heat Look to Take a Two-Game Advantage at Home Against the Bucks

Following a 22-point home win Saturday to take a 2-1 series lead, the Miami Heat will return to Kaseya Center Monday night to host the Milwaukee Bucks for game four of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Miami will look to defend its home court before both teams return to Milwaukee for what could be a decisive game five.

Injury-Riddled Series

After sitting out games two and three due to a lower-back contusion, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo’s is expected return to the lineup Monday barring any setbacks. Antetokounmpo — who was one of only two players to average over 30 points and 10 rebounds this regular season — scored six points in only 10 minutes of game-one action before the two-time MVP Award winner suffered his injury.

Heat guards Tyler Herro underwent surgery Friday on his broken right hand and will miss at least the remainder of the series. In game three, Miami guard Victor Oladipo suffered a torn patellar tendon and will miss the rest of the season.

The guard duo averaged over 30 points combined during the regular season. Miami will look to utilize its depth at the guard position as Kyle Lowry, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson contributed 47 points combined in Saturday’s win.

Small forward Jimmy Butler — who leads the Heat with 30 points and six assists per game this postseason — remains questionable for game four due to a bruised glute. In the first three games of the series, Butler shot over 60% from the field and from beyond the arc.

The Marquette alum is making an impact on both ends of the floor as he leads the Heat with seven steals in three games. In the first quarter of game three, Butler dropped 17 points in the to give Miami an early eight-point lead.

Heat center Bam Adebayo — who is dealing with a strained left hamstring — is listed as probable for game four. The two-way big man averaged a 19-point, double-double in the regular season.

Bucks Without Giannis

In Antetokounmpo’s absence, Bucks forward Khris Middleton leads the team this postseason with 24 points per game. Middleton is shooting 52% from the field and over 40% from three-point range.

Point guard Jrue Holiday leads Milwaukee with 10 assists per game this series. But the 32-year-old handed out only three dishes and committed five turnovers in Saturday’s loss.

Without Antetokounmpo, Bucks forward Bobby Portis grabbed 15 boards in game two and 10 rebounds in game three. Despite scoring only six points in Saturday’s loss, Milwaukee center Brook Lopez remains a defensive force as the 7-footer recorded at least one block and steal in each game this series.

After Saturday’s loss, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer admitted that his team didn’t play their best basketball in game three.

“We weren’t our best, and we’ve got to look at that, we’ve got to own that, and be better going into the next game and know that we’ve got a really good team and really good players,” Budenholzer said. “There’s a ton of confidence in [our] locker room.”

How to Watch

Monday’s tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m and will air on TNT.

About Griffin Foll

Hi, my name is Griffin Foll and I am currently a senior at UF studying journalism with a focus on sports and media and an outside concentration in political science. In addition to covering the 2023 UF men's and women's golf beats, I contribute weekly web and radio content for WRUF ESPN Gainesville. Be sure to check out some of my recent articles!

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