Heat use big 4th quarter to take 3-0 series lead over Bucks

Heat use big 4th quarter to take 3-0 series lead over Bucks
Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo (13) goes up for a dunk in front of Milwaukee Bucks' Brook Lopez (11) in the first half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game on Sept. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Updated 05 September 2020

Heat use big 4th quarter to take 3-0 series lead over Bucks

Heat use big 4th quarter to take 3-0 series lead over Bucks
  • The Bucks, the NBA’s best regular-season team, is on the brink of getting swept
  • No team in NBA history has ever successfully rallied from a 3-0 deficit

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat are a game away from the Eastern Conference finals.
And the NBA’s best regular-season team is on the brink of getting swept.
Miami’s stunning run through the NBA playoffs continued Friday night, with Butler scoring 30 points and the Heat putting together a dominant fourth-quarter rally to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-100 on Friday night.
The Heat outscored Milwaukee 40-13 in the fourth quarter — the biggest such final-quarter margin in NBA playoff history — to take a 3-0 series lead. No team in NBA history has ever successfully rallied from a 3-0 deficit.
“We’ve been proving people wrong all year,” Bam Adebayo said.
Adebayo had 20 points and 16 rebounds, and Jae Crowder had 17 points to help the Heat improve to 7-0 in this postseason. Brook Lopez scored 22 points for Milwaukee, which got 21 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists from Giannis Antetokounmpo — who twisted an ankle in the first quarter and appeared to labor at times.
Butler had 17 of his points in the fourth, and the Heat pulled off their biggest fourth-quarter playoff comeback ever. They were down 10 going into the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals against San Antonio, the game where Ray Allen sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left on the way to Miami’s most recent title.
Milwaukee led 87-75 going into the final quarter, up 12 with 12 minutes to go in a game that the Bucks knew they almost certainly had to win to keep any realistic hopes of winning a championship alive.
Miami had other ideas.
Tyler Herro opened the fourth with a 3-pointer, Goran Dragic made another 3 about three minutes later to cut the deficit to four, and the Heat were off and running. Butler had the next nine Miami points as the Heat went back on top, and he set Adebayo up for a short basket with 4:20 remaining to restore a 100-99 lead.
And Butler might have delivered the dagger with a pass; he found Jae Crowder for a left-wing 3-pointer with 2:15 left to put Miami up 107-100.
Butler knew it was good — he was running the other way, his arm in the air, before Crowder’s shot even found the inside of the net. It was part of a 15-1 run that sealed the deal.
Milwaukee needed less than five minutes to go on a 21-6 run that put the Bucks up 87-73 late in the third. Lopez and George Hill combined for the first 11 points of that run.
But the fourth, all Miami.

TIP-INS
Bucks: Milwaukee fell to 0-7 against Miami in playoff games. ... Antetokounmpo’s struggles from the line continued, with him going 3 for 8 in the first half — dropping him to 19 for his last 42 in the playoffs.
Heat: With Kelly Olynyk (bruised knee) out, Meyers Leonard got his first minutes of the playoffs. Leonard started for much of the season before a nasty ankle sprain in early February; Friday marked just his third appearance in the last seven months. ...

GIANNIS 1K
A dunk in the fourth quarter gave Antetokounmpo 19 points on the night and 1,000 in his 42-game playoff career. He’s the 32nd player to score at least 1,000 points in his first 42 NBA playoff games; Michael Jordan has the most in that span, at 1,495.

HEAT DENIED
Miami’s plan of turning its home arena into an early voting location starting next month was denied Friday by elections officials in Miami-Dade County. “(If) forces involved in making this decision think this will quiet our voice on the critical importance of voting, they should know that we will not be deterred,” the team said. Many NBA teams are trying to host voting centers this fall, in part because of the agreement struck last week when players elected to continue the season.

UP NEXT
Game 4 is Sunday.


Manchester United face acid test of title credentials at Liverpool

Manchester United face acid test of title credentials at Liverpool
Updated 17 January 2021

Manchester United face acid test of title credentials at Liverpool

Manchester United face acid test of title credentials at Liverpool
  • Jurgen Klopp’s men could drop to fifth place on Sunday if results go against them

LONDON: Liverpool and Manchester United face off on Sunday as the Premier League’s top two teams for the first time since 1997 — with the rivalry between England’s most successful clubs rekindled by a fascinating title race.

United top the table after the New Year for the first time since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 thanks to an 11-match unbeaten run to take them past Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Liverpool have surrendered top spot after three league games without a win and could drop to fifth place on Sunday if results go against them.

The last time United and Liverpool locked horns in a title race was 12 years ago.

Back then United were hardened winners under Ferguson, who saw off Rafael Benitez’s challengers to win a third consecutive league title.

Now it is United who Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits are the “hunters” chasing the champions.

Ferguson, who arrived at Old Trafford in 1986 with United firmly in Liverpool’s shadow, once famously said his goal was to knock them “off their perch” and he went on to win 13 league titles.

But United have been displaced as top dogs even in their own city by Manchester City.

And fans have been forced to watch Klopp spearhead another era of glory at Anfield, winning the Champions League in 2019 before ending the club’s 30-year wait for a league title last season — putting them just one behind United’s record tally of 20.

But, in a strange and at times soulless season in empty stadiums, the relentless consistency shown by Liverpool in recent
years has dropped off.

Hampered by a series of injuries, most notably to talismanic center-back Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool have already dropped more points in 17 games than they have in either of the past two seasons.

That has allowed United to overtake them despite a slow start to their own campaign.

Solskjaer’s men won just two of their opening six games, suffering a humiliating 6-1 reverse at the hands of Tottenham at Old Trafford.

But, on the road, United’s form has been remarkably consistent. Come Sunday, it will be almost a year to the day since they last lost an away game in domestic competition — on their last visit
to Anfield.

Since then Bruno Fernandes’ arrival has helped transform United’s fortunes. On Friday, the Portugal playmaker won his fourth Premier League player-of-the-month award in 2020 by picking up the prize for December.

“Unfortunately a good signing for United,” said Klopp.

“He is a very influential player for United obviously, involved in a lot of things.

“I know people talk mostly about the goal involvements, which is very important stuff, but he is a link-up in a lot of other situations as well.”

Without the silverware on his CV to rival Klopp or City boss Pep Guardiola, Solskjaer’s credentials for one of the biggest jobs in football are questioned every time he has a couple of bad results.

But the Norwegian has guided United into a position his more storied predecessors, Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal, could not manage.

“The last few years, there have been two teams running away with it already by the end of October,” said Solskjaer.

“Now, at least, we’re in it at half-way. We’re a much better side now than a year ago.”

Questions remain over whether United’s revival is for real or another false dawn, of which there have been several in the post-Ferguson era.

Liverpool’s three-decade drought without a league title stands as a warning of how far even giants can fall.

One of Klopp’s first iconic phrases when taking charge in 2015 was his ambition to change the fatalism around the club’s mentality from “doubter to believer.”

Should United become the first visiting side to win at Anfield in the league for nearly four years, it is they who will have the new-found confidence that a 21st league title in 2021 is possible.