Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
“Well, it shouldn’t affect [our play], but I think that we relaxed a little bit,” he told reporters. “And we stopped playing basketball the right way. We stopped guarding. We stopped living by our defensive principles. We weren’t getting 50-50 balls. We were getting out-rebounded. It was just all bad.”
Ben Golliver @BenGolliver
Heat’s Jimmy Butler on Game 4 loss to Bucks: “We relaxed a little bit. We stopped playing basketball the right way. We stopped guarding. We stopped living by our principles. It was all bad.” https://t.co/K5Me7tVC10
Nick Friedell @NickFriedell
Jimmy, when asked if Heat took their foot off the gas: “Yeah, I think so. I think that was it. We did what we always say we can’t do which is get comfortable. We thought this one was going to be easy and it was not … so going into the next one we just got to put them away.”
Bam Adebayo concurred.
“I feel like we played like we were up 3-0,” he said. “That’s not giving enough effort, not sacrificing our body, and we ended up losing because we were up 3-0. They’re a good team. So at the end of the day, we should have played like we were in Game 1, Game 2 and Game 3 … I feel like we didn’t play a maximum effort the whole game.”
Miami still holds a 3-1 lead in the series, and the status of Antetokounmpo going forward is unclear. The Heat have done a brilliant job of stifling the defending MVP thus far, holding him to an average of 22 points in their three wins. The Greek Freak was dominant in limited minutes Sunday, however, with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting in 11 minutes.
With Antetokounmpo out of action, Khris Middleton carried the torch, going off for 36 points—including 21 in the third quarter and nine in overtime—to save Milwaukee’s season.
🦌 36 PTS, 8 REB, 8 AST
🦌 30 PTS in 2nd half, 9 in OT
@Khris22m leads the @Bucks to Game 5 ⏩ Tue. (9/8) 6:30pm/et on TNT https://t.co/2lzSmg6KlL
Perhaps a defense geared up to slow down Antetokounmpo struggled without its focal point. Perhaps Miami simply lost its focus, period.
“We didn’t have the mentality just to take the win,” Heat forward Jae Crowder said. “I don’t know if Giannis going out was a dictative factor for us, but we just didn’t have the same mentality.”
Game 5 is Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT.