It was early, but the Milwaukee Bucks looked poised to make Game 3 interesting.
Milwaukee sank four three-pointers in the final 3 minutes 5 seconds of the opening quarter Thursday, including one by J.J. Redick that gave Milwaukee a 10-point lead. The Bucks never led by more than five in the first two games of their first-round playoff series against the Heat.
But Miami quickly adjusted its defense and held Milwaukee to 2-of-16 shooting (12.5 percent) from beyond the arc over the final three quarters to pull away for a 104-91 victory.
“They hunkered down,” Milwaukee’s Mike Dunleavy said. “They made an effort to get out to our shooters and make us put it on the floor. I thought a little bit, too, we kind of stopped moving the ball. We got stagnant. You’ve got to move it from side to side against these guys; make their defense move. Then you can cut and pass and get open shots on them. We just didn’t stick with that philosophy.”
After struggling the first two games of the series, Redick sank back-to-back three-pointers for a 27-17 lead with 1:41 left in the first quarter.
Redick added another three early in the second quarter, and his layup gave the Bucks a 38-29 lead with 7:33 remaining.
But Redick did not score again and had to settle for an 11-point outing.
He played 17 minutes after getting a total of 24 in the first two games. He had a combined eight points on 2-for-7 shooting in Games 1 and 2.
Before Game 3, Milwaukee coach Jim Boylan said he urged Redick to remain confident and keep shooting.
Not so, according to a surprised Redick.
“Jim never talked to me, so he didn’t say anything to me,” Redick said. “I haven’t spoken to him during the playoffs. I did not get that message. I don’t need anybody telling me to be confident. I would’ve appreciated it, but it wasn’t a matter of Jim, my dad, my wife or God or anyone saying ‘be confident.’”
Milwaukee’s two starting guards might be losing some confidence after struggling from the field for the second consecutive game.
Brandon Jennings managed to finish with 16 points, but he and Monta Ellis combined to shoot 7 of 24 from the floor and 2 of 13 from beyond the arc.
“Anytime you use pick-and-rolls, they’re double-teaming [Jennings] and putting pressure on him, so that combination is difficult,” Boylan said. “They’re focused in on both he and Monte. [On Thursday night] they did what they needed to do: be physical and be big, cut off those angles for finding people.”
Ellis managed just seven points for the second consecutive game and knows why Miami is trapping the two guards after running the screen-and-roll.
“To make sure they get the ball out of our hands,” Ellis said.
“We move it, [they] try to make everybody else beat us.”
Redick was asked about Game 4 on Sunday.
“It’s a matter of survival,” Redick said. “It’ll be interesting.”
Ellis was asked where the team’s confidence level is.
“Who knows?” he said. “We’ve got to go to practice [Friday], go back to the drawing board, and we’ll see.”