The Milwaukee Bucks looked unstoppable during the regular season, now they look like they don’t know how to win as they sit on the brink of playoff elimination.
In their second round series against the Miami Heat, the Bucks have sunk into a 0-3 hole as the fifth seeded Heat run rampant.
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As Game 3 entered the fourth quarter, the Bucks held a 12 point lead and looked to be on their way to securing their first win of the series.
But Jimmy Butler and the Heat had other ideas as they exploded to outscore the Bucks 40-13 in the final 12 minutes to run away with the 115-100 victory.
The blow out in the fourth quarter is the worst point differential (27) in a fourth quarter of a playoff game in the shock clock era (1955), per ESPN Stats & Info.
To put that into an even uglier context for the Bucks, Butler single-handedly outscored them down the stretch 17-13.
Fans simply couldn’t believe what they were watching unfold in front of their eyes, with many putting Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer under the microscope.
One decision in particular drew the ire of fans with reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo sitting on the bench as the Heat started to shift the momentum.
Antetokounmpo’s playing time has come under heavy fire of late and after turning his ankle in the first quarter he sat on only 28 minutes in the fourth quarter.
Despite being hampered by his turned ankle, Antetokounmpo had still dragged the Bucks to the 12 point lead after three.
But with the momentum slipping out of their hands, fans couldn’t believe Budenholzer didn’t call time to get his superstar back into the contest.
“Honestly wonder if there is some unreported Giannis injury or something that is causing Bud to sit him right now. It’s totally unforgivable if there isn’t,” The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie wrote.
“You have one of the most dominant two-way players on the planet and your team is trailing 0-2 with a loss surely sealing your fate … and you sit him for what equates to just over one full quarter??? Mike Budenholzer has lost his mind,” basketball reporter Chris Walder wrote.
“Mike Budenholzer should be fired before he gets to the locker room. This was unjustifiable coaching malpractice,” Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl wrote.
After the game however Budenholzer said the ankle injury early in the game had no bearing on how he played Antetokounmpo during the game.
Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill reported Budenholzer saying that playing Antetokounmpo 35+ minutes is “pushing the ceiling”.
The fourth quarter capitulation puts the Bucks with their backs well and truly up against the wall. No team in NBA history has ever overcome a 0-3 deficit in a playoff series.
Game four will be played on Monday morning at 5:30am (AEST).