Monday's NBA playoffs: Bucks capitalize on hot start, rout Heat for 2-0 lead
Milwaukee — When the Milwaukee Bucks conducted a roster makeover in the wake of an early playoff exit, the addition of Bryn Forbes didn’t earn nearly as much notice as some other moves.
Looks pretty good right now.
Forbes made six 3-pointers on his way to 22 points, and the Milwaukee Bucks routed the Miami Heat, 132-98, on Monday night for a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Forbes, who played at Michigan State, spent his first four seasons with San Antonio, but he signed with Milwaukee in free agency in November.
“That was a huge part in me coming here,” Forbes, 27, said. “You know that there would be these opportunities and we would be in the playoffs. …It’s just great to be in this position, be in the playoffs again and have an opportunity and stage.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points, 13 rebounds and six assists for the Bucks, who were eliminated by the Heat in the second round of last year’s playoffs.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday in Miami.
Milwaukee shot 22 of 53 from 3-point range — including 15 of 29 in the first half — and never trailed while leading by as many as 36 points. The Bucks’ 22 3-pointers were their highest total ever in a playoff game.
“I don’t think we need to give ourselves a pep talk,” said Miami’s Bam Adebayo, who scored 16 points. “We’re grown men. At the end of the day, we are down 2-0. We know what we’ve got to do.”
Milwaukee’s two victories in this series couldn’t have looked more different.
The Bucks needed Khris Middleton’s tiebreaking jumper with 0.5 seconds left in overtime to pull out a 109-107 victory in Game 1. Milwaukee essentially put away Game 2 in the first quarter when its 3-point attack went from fizzling to sizzling.
“They made a lot of shots, but we didn’t make anything difficult on them or take anything away,” said Miami’s Jimmy Butler, who scored 10 points.
Milwaukee shot 5 of 31 from behind the arc and made its fewest 3-pointers of the season Saturday. The Bucks were 10 of 15 on 3-point attempts in the first quarter alone Monday.
The Bucks led 46-20 at the end of the opening period and 78-51 at the break, posting the highest first-half point total in their playoff history.
“It’s just how the game goes,” Forbes said. “It’s ebbs and flows. Some games you’re open a lot more. Some games you aren’t. Tonight I think we moved the ball great and had a lot of open shots.”
Forbes came off the bench to score 14 points in the first quarter while shooting 5-of-6 overall and 4-for-5 on 3-pointers.
Middleton added 17 points and Pat Connaughton had 15 while shooting 5 of 9 from beyond the arc.
Jrue Holiday’s 15 assists were one off the Bucks’ playoff record shared by Paul Pressey and Oscar Robertson. Holiday also had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Miami’s Dewayne Dedmon had 19 points and nine rebounds. Goran Dragic had 18 points.
► (At) Denver 128, Portland 109: Nikola Jokic scored 38 points to overcome a 3-point shooting barrage from Damian Lillard and the Nuggets evened the first-round series by beating the Trail Blazers in a chippy Game 2.
Jokic also had eight rebounds and five assists, which was four more than he had in Game 1 when the Blazers made sure the big man didn’t beat him with his pinpoint passing.
The Nuggets had few answers for Lillard early on as the dynamic playmaker scored 32 of his 42 points in the first half. His eight 3-pointers before intermission tied an NBA playoff record for most in a half. Lillard finished 9-for-16 from 3-point range.
It was a physical affair, with four technical fouls being issued (three on Denver, including one on Jokic) and two flagrant-1 calls (CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony).
Game 3 will be Thursday in Portland.
Utah’s Jordan Clarkson, the only player to come off the bench and score 40 points in a game this season, was announced as the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
And his closest competition was from a teammate: Utah’s Joe Ingles was second, marking the first time the top two finishers for this award came from the same franchise.
It’s the first time a Jazz player has won the award. Clarkson finished with 65 of the 100 first-place votes cast from a global panel of reporters who cover the league and appeared on all but five of the ballots.
Ingles got 34 of the remaining 35 first-place votes.
New York’s Derrick Rose, the other first-place vote getter, was third, while Dallas teammates Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan) were fourth and fifth, respectively. Voters were asked to select their top three picks for the award, in order.
Clarkson averaged a career-high 18.4 points this season, coming off the bench in 67 of his 68 appearances.