MILWAUKEE -- After making just 5-of-31 3-pointers in Game 1 -- their fewest makes in a playoff game since 2017 -- the Milwaukee Bucks knew they would shoot the ball better in Game 2. But even with all the confidence of one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league, they still couldn't have expected to come out and make history.
That's just what happened, however, as the Bucks knocked down their first two attempts from downtown and never let up. They hit 10 3-pointers in the first quarter alone to tie the NBA playoff record for 3s in a quarter and finished 22-of-53 from beyond the arc to set a new record for the most made 3-pointers in a playoff game in franchise history.
Unlike their last game, which went down to the wire, this one was over almost as soon as it started. Thanks to the historic 3-point attack, the Bucks coasted past the Miami Heat for a 132-98 victory and a 2-0 series lead. Ten different players made at least one triple, but the star of the show was Bryn Forbes, who drained six of them en route to a new playoff career-high 22 points.
"You just gotta keep playing the right way," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Guys gotta shoot it with confidence, guys gotta let it fly, they gotta know they're gonna get 3s. I think the activity offensively, the attack can create good looks for us, and you just gotta let it fly when you're open."
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The Bucks certainly did that in Game 2. Let's take a closer look at how they put together their record-setting performance.
Stops first, shots later
"I think the team did a great job setting the tone," Giannis Antetokounmpo said. "We were able to get to our spots, get some easy ones and we got stops. We kept doing it over and over again. We knew that we were gonna shoot the ball better from Game 1 going into Game 2, but at the end of the day we wanted to get stops, and the team was locked in. We didn't let our foot off the gas defensively."
The Bucks' hot shooting night is going to be what makes headlines, and for good reason, but it was their hard work on the defensive end that made it possible. Of the Bucks' 15 first-half 3s, 10 of them came after they got a stop on the other end. Even if they weren't directly from transition, the Bucks were able to come down and attack before the Heat could set their defense. That's always an advantage, but especially against a Miami team that has a history of stymieing them in the playoffs.
Here's a perfect example from the middle of the first quarter. First, the Bucks wall up Jimmy Butler at the rim, force him into a tough look and crash the glass to make sure they secure the rebound. Then they're able to push the pace, and Forbes flips it to Jrue Holiday on the little handoff. As they scramble to get back and match up, two Heat defenders lunge towards Holiday, who calmly finds a wide-open Forbes.
Later in the frame, the Bucks get another stop when Bobby Portis deflects a pass from Bam Adebayo. Forbes gets the loose ball and finds Holiday, who's able to just walk into a 3 from the top of the key.
"I also think defense had something to do with it," Forbes said. "We were getting big stops and pushing in transition and finding shots. You know, we played great together and that's what you get."
Forbes has his podium game
Speaking of Forbes, he showed exactly why the Bucks picked him up in free agency this offseason. The Bucks have liked to launch 3s ever since Budenholzer took over as their coach, but it's always been more of a volume approach. Forbes gave them a truly elite shooter to help space the floor and keep defenses honest.
Game 2 was his best performance yet, as he came off the bench to knock down six 3s and finish with 22 points. His burst at the end of the first quarter was key in extending the Bucks' lead out to 28 points and essentially ending the contest.
"I love it, man," Forbes said. "Once you get into a rhythm and you know guys like Jrue -- Jrue's a great facilitator -- Donte [DiVincenzo], Giannis, all of those guys are very good passers. So you know when you got them on your team, you're gonna get more. So it's always great catching that rhythm early, and knowing you've got teammates that are gonna find you."
It's a real testament to how hot he was that on a team with Giannis, Khris Middleton and Holiday, they were running plays for Forbes "really just to see what happens," as Holiday put it. Late in the third quarter was the best example of that, as they set up a handoff for him in the corner, and he somehow wheeled around Giannis, took the contact and swished a fadeaway as he crashed to the ground.
"It's fun for me," Forbes said. "Everyone likes to make shots, everybody likes to see their team's shots go in. So no pressure, it's just a good time."
Getting into the paint
Another focal point for the Bucks in this game was getting the ball into the paint, collapsing the defense and creating from there. Obviously, that's easier said than done, but if you can get inside you're usually going to have success on the offensive end.
"Really just try and attack the paint and dish out," Holiday said. "They're a team that's a great defensive team, and they pack the paint when they play. Last game we didn't make as many 3s as we wanted to, but just trust in ourselves and our teammates, being able to get into the paint and dish it out for 3 for somebody to make."
Whether it was in transition…
… or in the halfcourt, the Bucks got clean looks over and over again by getting the ball into the paint first.
"We want to push the ball, have a great pace with us and get downhill," Middleton said. "Try to get to the rim first, then collapse the defense and find open guys and just play basketball from there. It worked out early, it was great."
It certainly did work out for the Bucks, who put together a nearly perfect performance in Game 2 to seize full control of the series. With the mental hurdle of beating the Heat in the postseason now well cleared, they're in position to get back to the second round for the third straight season. And if they can keep shooting 3s like this, that won't be the end of their road.