NBA playoffs: Bucks beat Heat in OT; Nets and Trail Blazers also win

Milwaukee's Khris Middleton celebrates with teammate Pat Connaughton after making the winning basket against the Heat.
Bucks forward Khris Middleton celebrates with teammate Pat Connaughton after making the winning basket against the Heat on Saturday in Milwaukee.
(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

Khris Middleton broke a tie with a jumper with 0.5 seconds left in overtime and scored 27 points to help the Milwaukee Bucks beat the visiting Miami Heat 109-107 on Saturday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

Middleton was closely guarded by Duncan Robinson on the 19-footer.

“I have confidence in myself,” Middleton said. “You miss a lot of shots. You make a lot of shots. You just have to trust all the work you put in during the season and practice.”


Miami’s Goran Dragic had tied it with a corner three-pointer with 20.6 seconds left in OT. After Middleton’s shot, Jrue Holiday blocked a three-point attempt from Jimmy Butler as the buzzer sounded.

“The pressure was all on them,” Dragic said. “They need to win at home. It was a close game. I feel like we had our chances, but unfortunately we didn’t take them.”

Game 2 is Monday night in Milwaukee. Miami beat Milwaukee 4-1 in the second round last year and went on to reach the NBA Finals.

Butler forced overtime by making a buzzer-beating driving layup past Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose free-throw woes prevented the Bucks from putting the game away earlier.

Luka Doncic had a triple-double and Dallas Mavericks role players outperformed the Clippers late to win Game 1 of the first-round series 113-103.

May 22, 2021

Antetokounmpo had 26 points, 18 rebounds and five assists but was just six for 13 on free-throw attempts. Over the last 1:06 of regulation, Antetokounmpo was two for five from the free-throw line and had a 10-second violation that prevented him from getting another attempt.


“I just tried to stay aggressive the whole game,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s what I’m going to try to do the whole series, miss or make.”

Holiday had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks, who won despite shooting five for 31 from three-point range. They never made fewer than seven three-pointers in a game during the regular season.

Dragic scored 25 points, Robinson had 24 and Butler added 17 for the Heat. Butler also had 10 rebounds and eight assists.

The Lakers and Clippers open the NBA playoffs on May 22-23. Here’s a guide to the Los Angeles Times’ complete coverage.

May 21, 2021

This game featured the largest attendance for a Milwaukee home game this season.

The Milwaukee Health Department’s revised pandemic-imposed guidelines enabled the Bucks to fill 50% of Fiserv Forum’s seats this season, resulting in crowds of about 9,000. The Bucks had closed the regular season playing home games at 18% capacity, or roughly 3,300 fans.

Crowds will get even bigger when this series moves to Miami for Game 3 on Thursday. The Heat announced Saturday that they could have as many as 17,000 fans for their home playoff games.

Nets 104, Celtics 93

The Nets' Kevin Durant dunks during Game 1 against the Boston Celtics on May 22, 2021, in New York.
Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant dunks during his team’s Game 1 win over Boston on Saturday night.
(Corey Sipkin / Associated Press)

Brooklyn’s Big Three went from way off to off and running.

Kevin Durant had 32 points and 12 rebounds, Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and the host Nets recovered from their superstars’ frigid start to beat Boston in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round series.

James Harden finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in just the ninth appearance of the season for the trio. The three combined to go 0 for 11 from three-point range in the first half, then stormed out of the locker room with an 18-4 run to open the third quarter and swing the lead the Nets’ way for good.

Durant, Irving and Harden scored 28 of the Nets’ 31 points in the period, with Joe Harris — who made Brooklyn’s only three-pointer of the first half — hitting another for the other points.

Harris had 10 points for the Nets, who announced a sellout crowd of 14,391 and host Game 2 on Tuesday night.

Jayson Tatum scored 22 points but shot just six for 20 and couldn’t come to his 50-point effort in the play-in tournament, when Boston beat Washington to earn the No. 7 seed.

Robert Williams III had 11 points, nine rebounds and nine blocked shots for the Celtics. He has been battling turf toe, and it wasn’t certain he would play until after he warmed up. Marcus Smart scored 17 points.

Trail Blazers 123, Nuggets 109

The Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard drives past the Nuggets' Facundo Campazzo in Game 1 on May 22, 2021.
Portland’s Damian Lillard, who scored 34 points, drives past Denver’s Facundo Campazzo in Game 1 on Saturday night.
(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

Damian Lillard scored 34 points and led Portland’s three-point barrage that sparked the Trail Blazers’ win at Denver in the opener of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.

The Trail Blazers hit 19 of 40 shots from beyond the arc, and Lillard, sporting silver sneakers that were a fitting choice for his sterling performance, had five of them.

Substitutes Carmelo Anthony and Anfernee Simons added four each as the Blazers outscored the Nuggets by 24 points from beyond the arc.

CJ McCollum added 21 points and Anthony scored 18 in his first playoff game against the team that drafted him 18 years ago.

MVP favorite Nikola Jokic led Denver with 34 points, and Michael Porter Jr. chipped in 25. Aaron Gordon added 16.

Porter had a trio of buckets in an 8-0 spurt that pulled Denver within 102-98, but Portland soon rattled off an 11-0 run to pull away.

Anthony provided an early spark for the Trail Blazers with 12 points in the first quarter. It was Lillard who took over after halftime, scoring 15 points in the third quarter when he sparked a 32-13 run by Portland that turned a nine-point deficit into a 96-86 lead.