The Miami Heat's hopes of a return trip to the NBA Finals ended earlier than some expected - and in sweeping fashion.
In front of a rather lively crowd inside the AmericanAirlines Arena, the Milwaukee Bucks finished off the opening round series with a 120-103 victory in Game 4, completing a 4-0 series sweep to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“We tip our hat to the Bucks' organization," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They were a great team last year and they improved on that. Whether we were a part of that improvement or not, it's irrelevant. They took their game collectively to another level. They beat us for a reason."
Bam Adebayo led Miami with 20 points while Kendrick Nunn came off the bench to score 18 for the Heat, who beat the Bucks in five games last season during the road to the Finals while in the NBA's pandemic bubble.
Get South Florida local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC South Florida newsletters.
Brook Lopez led all scorers with 25 points for Milwaukee while Bryn Forbes added 20 off the bench for the Bucks, who will advance to face the winner of the series between Brooklyn and Boston.
“We've got a long ways to go," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It's the first round of the playoffs. I think there's got to be humility, a humbleness, an attitude or a mindset to get better. We've advanced in the first round. Whoever we play next, we've got to have the similar focus, a similar edge."
Miami's Jimmy Butler had a triple double in the game, scoring 12 points while adding 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
“Just some missed shots here and there," Butler said. “I think they did a great job. I think you just kind of leave it at that."
Giannis Antetokounmpo also finished the game with a triple double, scoring 20 points and adding 12 rebounds and 15 assists in helping the Bucks overcome a seven point halftime lead for Miami.
“Obviously, it's a great moment for us and winning 4-0, beating the team that beat us last year, feels good," Antetokounmpo said. “But at the end of the day, we've got a long way to go."
The Heat couldn’t make anything; they shot 8 for 24 in the third quarter. Bobby Portis’ 3-pointer late in the third put Milwaukee up by 12, and the lead was 91-85 going into the fourth.
The Heat have now been eliminated in the first round 11 times in franchise history and became the second team in this playoff format to go from sweeping in the first round one year to being swept in the first round the next.
Once Milwaukee grabbed the first three games, history said the result was inevitable. NBA teams with 3-0 series leads are now 141-0 all-time in those matchups, with these Bucks becoming the 88th of those teams to finish off matters with a sweep.
Bucks: Pat Connaughton started for Donte DiVincenzo, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn tendon in his left ankle. ... Milwaukee went 6-1 against the Heat this season. In the previous four seasons combined, the Bucks were 6-13 vs. Miami. ... Milwaukee is 12-1 in its last 13 first-round games. ... The Bucks are now assured of receiving at least $995,797 from the league’s $20.8 million postseason pool.
Heat: Miami finished the season 40-36 overall, the 15th-best record in the franchise’s 33 seasons. ... It was the first time Andre Iguodala, a veteran of 33 playoff series, endured a sweep. ... This was the third consecutive season that the team coming off an NBA Finals loss didn’t win a postseason game. Cleveland missed the 2019 playoffs, Golden State missed the 2020 playoffs and this Heat team got swept. ... Miami will receive $592,385 from the league’s postseason pool.
It was the fifth sweep of a best-of-seven series in Bucks history, joining the 2019 first round (vs. Detroit), 1983 East semifinals (vs. Boston), 1974 Western Conference finals (vs. Chicago) and 1971 NBA Finals (vs. Washington). Miami lost a series 4-0 for only the second time, also falling in the 2007 first round vs. Chicago.
This was the first series since 2014 in which Butler didn’t have at least one 20-point game. He shot 19 for 64 in this matchup, by far the worst shooting series of his career.