By. Ricardo Carbajal
MILWAUKEE -- Khris Middleton drained a 19-foot pull-up jumper with 0.5 seconds left to lift the Milwaukee Bucks to a nail-biting 109-107 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of their Eastern conference Conference showdown at the Fiserv Forum.
The Round 1 joust between these bitter rivals returns Tuesday to Milwaukee where the Bucks hope to establish a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series that shifts to Miami for Games 3 and 4.
Middleton, who signed a five-year $178 million contract extension with the Bucks in 2019 proved to be money when all the chips were on the line, knocking down the game-winner despite a hand on his face from Duncan Robinson.
"I have confidence in myself," said Middleton after finishing with 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting. "You just have to trust all the work you put in during the season and practice."
"It's as good as you can get," Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters on Duncan's coverage of Middleton's winning jumper. "He made a really tough shot out there. Sometimes it can be a make or miss."
Giannis Antetokounmpo registered 26 points, 18 rebounds and five assists but "The Greak Freak" was slowed by Miami's swarming defense and he struggled mightily at the free throw line, going just against 6-for-13.
Jrue Holiday had 20 points and 11 assists and Brook Lopez chipped in 18 and eight rebounds.
Milwaukee made a decent 42 of 96 field goals (43.5 percent) but they horrendous from the 3-point line, 5-of-31 for 16.1 percent. The Bucks controlled the boards, 64-51, and dominated the scoring inside the paint, 56-24. They also dished 19 assists against 17 turnovers.
Goran Dragic sank five triples to lead the Heat with 25 off the bench. Robinson added 24 but Jimmy Butler was stone cold, missing 18 of his 22 shots and somewhow finished with 17 on the strength of a pair of triples and seven made free throws.
Bam Adebayo (4-of-15) and Tyler Hello (2-for-10) had similar difficulties finding the rim as the Heat made only 36 off 99 field goals (35.4 percent). Their 3-point shooting (20-of-50) kept them constantly without striking distance of the Bucks who stayed on top most of the time and led by as many as eight.