One of the Milwaukee Bucks' about their season-ending Game 5 loss against the Miami Heat on Wednesday is that they punted the last possession of regulation. After Jimmy Butler tied the game on a , the Bucks could have called a timeout and advanced the ball. They did not do that.
All that Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said about it after the 128-126 overtime loss was, "Yeah we needed to call a timeout there."
Miami wing Max Strus, however, had more to say. In an interview on "The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz" on Thursday, Strus said that coach Erik Spoelstra and the Heat were confused about whether or not Milwaukee had any timeouts and what exactly their opponent was thinking.
"Honestly, we were all questioning it," Strus said ."At the end of [regulation], Spo came in the huddle, he was like, 'They didn't call a timeout! What are we doing? They didn't call a timeout!' And we were like, we didn't even know they had a timeout. We just figured they didn't, the guys on the court. But yeah, we were kind of questioning what was going on. But thankfully they didn't use it."
"Honestly, we were all questioning it...Spo came into the huddle and he was like 'they didn't call a timeout, what are they doing?'" – Max Strus on what it felt like as the Heat realized Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer wasn't going to call a timeout at the end of regulation. pic.twitter.com/8UTH7UbUrm— Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (@LeBatardShow) April 27, 2023
That blunder might as well have been a gift from Milwaukee to Miami in an elimination game. It is more murky territory, however, to suggest, as many have, that the Bucks' mismanagement of timeouts went beyond that. In theory, they could have used a timeout down the stretch of the fourth quarter in an attempt to stop the Heat's momentum, and they could have called a timeout in the middle of thethat was the final possession of overtime.
Asked if there was any point during that last play at which he thought he should have called timeout, Budenholzer said: "No. Giannis [Antetokounmpo] attacked, Giannis got the ball to Khris [Middleton], Khris attacked. That's how we always play. It's been very good for us. And we weren't able to convert it tonight."
In fairness, if Budenholzer could have anticipated that his team wouldn't even get a shot off, he surely would have called timeout and drawn something up. Both the way that possession ended and the way regulation ended seemed impossible to believe in real time, but only one of those mistakes can be pinned squarely on the coach. He -- and the rest of the world, TBH --assumed that, with the season on the line, Milwaukee would be better than that.