By Devon POV Mason| Staff Reporter
What a difference eight months and an “NBA Bubble” makes.
The last time the Milwaukee Bucks faced the Miami Heat in the “NBA Bubble” the Heat dismantled them in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the tune of (4-1), and the one Bucks victory came in OT of game 4 to avoid being swept.
That series coupled with the Bucks loss in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019, caused Milwaukee to look itself in the mirror and realize they had to make some changes to help their superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who happens to be the reigning two-time NBA MVP and one-time reigning DPOY.
But in typical fashion, no one cares about those individual accolades, as his team has posted the best record in the league in back-to-back seasons and failed to sniff the NBA Finals.
This past offseason they added the likes of Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis and PJ Tucker, through trades and free agency.
What these three players bring is the thing the Bucks lacked outside of Giannis; toughness and grit, especially on the defensive end.
In Holiday, Milwaukee added a player who can run the team, defend at a high level and close games for you. Closing playoff games has been an enigma for the Bucks in the past two seasons, with Giannis being a great player, but limited in his offensive skill set.
The Bucks now have Holiday and Khris Middleton to help close games offensively, allowing the “Greek Freak” to rebound, defend and use his length and athleticism to be a problem on both ends.
In previous playoff shortcomings, the Heat and Toronto Raptors utilized a defensive wall against Greek Freak in the crunch and it worked because he doesn’t shoot it well enough to disrupt that type of scheme.
All that has changed and the Bucks are up 3-0 and look ready to close the Heat out on Saturday afternoon.
The Miami Heat had the opportunity to trade for James Harden before he ended up in Brooklyn, but they decided against it because they didn’t wanna part ways with their “NBA Bubble” phenom Tyler Herro.
What a huge mistake by “The Don” aka Pat Riley, who ultimately didn’t want to trade a role player who excelled in a YMCA setting, for a superstar who makes you a championship contender with Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler right away.
Couple that with losing key members from the bubble run in Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr, who helped defend Giannis and then stretched the floor on the offensive end with the ability to make open threes and it’s understandable why the Heat are a shell of the team that washed the floor with Milwaukee in Disney less than a year ago.
The Heat did end up with Victor Oladipo at the trade deadline, but he played just four games in South Beach before being lost to another quad injury.
And yes he’s a good player but you could’ve had James Harden and that has to eat away at the Miami Heat and their fan base knowing they didn’t add a future first-ballot Hall of Famer when they had the opportunity.
That caliber of player isn’t made available often.
This series is over and that second-round matchup that we’re anticipating between the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks could be a lot tougher for the Nets than folks want to believe.