ST. FRANCIS — In the NBA, the first team to win four playoff games wins the series.
So, technically, the Miami Heat can’t wrap up their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks until Game 4 Sunday.
But, realistically, the Heat can virtually assure themselves a berth in the second round with a victory Thursday night in Game 3 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Nobody has to tell that to the Bucks, who lost the first two games of the series in Miami. They know they’re in a dire situation. They know if they suffer a third straight loss to the reigning champion Heat, their season is, for all intent and purpose, history.
“Yeah, it is,” said Bucks power forward Ersan Ilyasova, who is coming off a
21-point, six-rebound performance in Game 2. “They (the Heat) used their home-court advantage to be up 2-0 in the series, so Game 3 is really key for us.
“If we win this game, we have a chance. But if we lose this game, it’s hard to come up from 0-3 and try to win the series.”
It’s more than hard. It’s almost impossible. No NBA team, in any round of the playoffs, has recovered from an 0-3 deficit to win the series.
JENNINGS STRUGGLES: Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising Brandon Jennings hasn’t shot the ball well in the playoffs. After all, he didn’t shoot the ball well during the regular season, either. His field-goal percentage was .399.
But that percentage looks robust in comparison to his 31 percent (11 of 35) in the playoffs.Jennings’ 3-point shooting has been even worse. He’s connected on just 4 of 17 treys, for 23 percent.
Still, Bucks coach Jim Boylan has faith in his young point guard and believes he’ll get back on track.
“Brandon had a lot of wide open shots (in Game 2), good shots, shots I’m sure that’ll go in (Thursday) night,” Boylan said.
NO PLACE FOR THE MEEK OR WEAK: While there hasn’t been much trashing talking in this series, it has been fairly physical as the officials, for the most part, have let both teams play.
Bucks center Larry Sanders, who had never before participated in the playoffs, was asked if he was surprised the rough and tumble play.
“No,” said Sanders, who laughed and added, “I think I’m starting most of it.”
HOME, SWEET HOME: After playing the first two games of this series in a hostile environment at AmericanAirlines in Miami, the Bucks are hoping to get a desperately-needed boost from their fans in Games 3 and 4 at the BMO Harris BC.
“We’re going to be at home now and there’s going to be a lot of excitement in the building,” Sanders said. “It’s going to be great for our fans and it’s going to be great for us.”
Added Boylan: “It’s nice to come home and experience the other side of it. I’m anticipating a great crowd. I think our home crowd is going to help us.”
NO ILLUSIONS: Boylan was encouraged by the Bucks’ improvement from Game 1 to Game 2, where they were within three points of the Heat heading into the fourth quarter before seeing the Heat go on a devastating 12-0 run to pull away.
“We’re definitely getting a little more comfortable,” Boylan said. “But we know who we are competing against.”