The Milwaukee Bucks played out a stellar performance in their game against the Maimi Heat, without Antetokounmpo, and went further to stamp an NBA record tie.
The Bucks defeated the Heat having 25 3-pointers in its 138-122 victory over the Heat for Game 2 on Wednesday night, tying an NBA record for 3s in a playoff game.
The Bucks also matched another record, having seven players finish in double figures, including six players who scored at least 15 points.
“It takes the whole team; I think you saw that tonight. It wasn’t just one guy that carried us. A lot of people might expect me or Jrue to take on all the load that Giannis does, but what he does, we can’t match. We have to do it by committee,” Bucks forward Khris Middleton said.
According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, the Bucks without their leading scorer Antetokounmpo, scored their highest points in a playoff game since 1978, made their most 3-pointers in a playoff game in their team’s history, and had their most assists in a playoff game since 1978.
Brook Lopez paced the Bucks with 25 points. Holiday finished with 24 points and 11 assists. Bobby Portis stepped into the starting lineup in place of Antetokounmpo and put up 13 points with 15 rebounds. After not playing in Game 1, Pat Connaughton came off the bench to score 22 points.
“We think we have the best player in the world, but we think we have the best guys around him. The best team,” said an excited Middleton, who finished with 16 points and seven assists. “And that’s what builds confidence, one guy goes down and we feel like we have a chance to compete at the highest level.”
Antetokounmpo did not play in the Bucks vs Heat game because of a lower back injury he had in the first quarter during Game 1 on Sunday. He collided with Miami’s Kevin Love and didn’t land well on his backside.
The Bucks, though optimistic about Antetokounmpo’s full recovery before Game 2, after his status was upgraded on the injury report from doubtful to questionable on Wednesday, decided to exercise caution and give him more time to recover despite entering Wednesday trailing 1-0 in the series.
“That guy, he’s going to do whatever he can to get out there and play,” Middleton told ESPN after Wednesday’s game. “But we always tell him, ‘If you need a night, big fella, we got you. It’s all right, win or lose, we gone give it our all. Just have that confidence in us, that trust in us.’ And he does.
“We’re going to hold the fort down as best we could. Just like we had to for a little bit in that Atlanta series [during the 2021 Eastern Conference finals].”
The Bucks have two more days before Saturday’s Game 3 in Miami, which is more time for Antetokounmpo’s back to recover. However, Wednesday’s win has given them more confidence that they can compete in this series until he’s 100% okay and fully ready to play.