Bucks host Heat in rematch of playoff series

On the second night of their first back-to-back of the season, the host Milwaukee Bucks will be out for revenge on Monday when they face the Miami Heat, who, as the No. 8 seed, ended their title hopes in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs this past spring.

The Bucks are hoping for a better outcome in the Heat rematch and also look to bounce back from Sunday’s 127-110 loss to the visiting Atlanta Hawks.

Milwaukee’s prized offseason acquisition, Damian Lillard, scored just six points on Sunday. He missed all seven of his shots from the floor in the first half and was held scoreless. Lillard poured in 39 points in 37 minutes in the season opener against Philadelphia.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 26 points and 11 rebounds against Atlanta, and Malik Beasley, who earned the final starting spot to begin the season, scored 18 points.

“They were putting two (defenders) on Dame every time on the pick and rolls, and we have to make teams pay for that,” Bucks coach Adrian Griffin said. “You have to continue to do that over 48 minutes. We got to trust each other.”

Milwaukee allowed eight Hawks players to score in double figures. The Bucks also committed 23 turnovers, leading to 22 Atlanta points.

The Bucks were without Khris Middleton as the team manages his workload in his return from offseason knee surgery. He is expected to play Monday night.

The Heat will be playing their fourth game of the season. They are coming off a 106-90 loss to the Timberwolves in Minneapolis on Saturday night, which followed a 119-111 setback against the Boston Celtics on Friday.

Without Jimmy Butler (rest) and Kevin Love (left shoulder contusion), Tyler Herro led the way with 22 points, and Bam Adebayo added 19. No other Heat player reached double figures.

“The guys competed really hard, and then you have these moments of truth where it can swing either way,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It just turned into an avalanche.”

Going into the final period up by seven, Minnesota outscored Miami 26-17 in the fourth to put the game away in their home opener.

“I felt like we were doing enough to give ourselves a chance going down the stretch, and they had something to say about that,” Spoelstra added. “Those last four-five minutes, they played their best basketball of the night.”

Through three games, Adebayo is leading Miami with 22.7 points per game, with Herro at 22.0. Kyle Lowry is averaging a team-best 4.7 assists and Love leads with 9.5 rebounds per game.

The teams will meet for the first time since the Heat took down the top-seeded Bucks in five games en route to an appearance in the 2023 NBA Finals. Butler averaged 37.6 points per game in the series.

Antetokounmpo was limited to three games in the series due to a back injury.

In the regular season, the teams split their four-game season series. The home team won all four games.