10/05/2022

Monday clarified an awful lot in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, both of whom dropped the first game of their respective first-round series, gained complete control of the Orlando Magic and Portland Trail Blazers…

Ashley Landis/Associated Press
Game 1 between the Bucks and Magic felt like an aberration the moment the final buzzer sounded.
Monday’s game served as further evidence that’s exactly what it was.
In 34 minutes, Giannis was plus-20 and had 31 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. His Eurostep dunk all over Nikola Vucevic was the exclamation point, but the 17 threes the team hit could be a more important indicator moving forward.
Milwaukee entered the playoffs with a historically dominant defense, but a superstar performance from Vucevic in Game 1 (35 points, 14 rebounds and four assists) took a little shine off.
The Bucks have figured that end out.
After mustering 106 points Monday, Orlando fell to 14th among playoff teams in offensive rating. Vuc is still getting his (29.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game), but the rest of the roster has been pretty well held in check. 
At this point, the series result feels inevitable, which makes it difficult to avoid looking forward to the Heat. 
There’s no real answer to Antetokounmpo, but Miami has some interesting options to throw at him.
Giannis shot 12-of-28 from the field when defended by Bam Adebayo in the regular season, good for an effective field-goal percentage 16.0 points shy of his season-long mark.
Of course, he went 4-of-5 against Bam in an Aug. 6 meeting in the bubble, so maybe he’s starting to figure that matchup out. Either way, Antetokounmpo will likely face a variety of defenders, including Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala.
The key will be those players forcing Giannis to kick it out a bit more than usual (or maybe even convincing him to take a few more jumpers of his own).
But if the Bucks’ shooters keep connecting (the team is shooting 39.1 percent from three in the playoffs), Milwaukee should overwhelm again in the second round.
Losses to Miami won’t be anywhere near as surprising as Game 1 against the Magic, though.