How Milwaukee avenged 2020’s loss

Eric Nehm, Bucks beat writer: After last year’s loss, the Bucks committed to trying new things on offense and defense during the regular season to be more versatile in the postseason.

Matching up against the Heat in the first round provided the perfect test, and they aced it. They shut down Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. They dominated the Heat on the glass. They executed better with Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday all taking turns running the show.

Beating the Heat proves they are a better postseason team this season and should give them confidence heading into a potentially epic match-up with the Nets.

How the Bucks match up with the Nets and Celtics

Nehm: While the Celtics pulled out Game 3 on Friday night, the matchup everybody wants to see is Nets vs. Bucks. The Nets are the favorites in the East, and the Bucks’ big three would love a chance to upset the more heralded big three of the Nets.

In the regular season, the Bucks were 2-1 against the Nets, including beating them twice in three days at the start of May in Milwaukee. They were just 1-2 against the Celtics and notably lost to Boston in the season opener on a banked-in 3 by Tatum.

What’s next for the Heat?

Manny Navarro, Miami beat writer: Pat Riley goes back to the drawing board without much draft capital to work with and in need of frontcourt help.

Butler, Adebayo, Tyler Herro, rookie Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala are under contract for next season. Vets Goran Dragic, 35, and Andre Iguodala, 37, will likely only come back on reduced deals. Sharpshooter Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn enter restricted free agency with manageable $4.4 million cap holds.

Re-signing an often-injured Victor Oladipo on a one-year deal makes cap sense, but will he return to an All-Star level? There’s no easy fix.

(Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE via Getty Images)



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