The top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks were eliminated from the NBA playoffs on Wednesday night by the Miami Heat.
Obviously Miami, a team that is just a couple of years removed from making the Finals, isn’t your standard No. 8 seed. Still, them upsetting the Bucks as easily as they did caught a lot of folks off guard.
The worst part is that Milwaukee seemed to have Game 5 in the bag. Unfortunately, careless play and awful coaching from Mike Budenholzer cost them their season.
Nothing encapsulates how badly Budenholzer got outcoached better than the fact that, with .5 seconds remaining on the clock and one timeout in hand, he refused to call it. Why? Because he seemingly forgot he had it.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer admits he should’ve called a timeout before OT.
— Dylan Hunter Carter (@DylanHCarter) April 27, 2023
Even the Heat were befuddled by Budenholzer’s coaching choke job. Max Strus appeared on Dan LeBatard’s Show early Thursday morning and said as much.
“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
“Honestly, we were all questioning it,” he said. “…Spo came into the huddle and he was like ‘they didn’t call a timeout, what are they doing?'”
It wasn’t just the timeout, though. As noted by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, that was just icing on the cake.
“What a collapse by the Bucks,” he wrote.
“Awful half court offense with too many stagnant post ups. Giannis [Antetokounmpo] took some goofy pull ups. Awful coaching by Budenholzer—not using the timeout, not keeping [Brook] Lopez in to protect the rim on the game-tying lob, and so many tactical choices.
“Why didn’t Khris Middleton get regular front court touches late in the game? Why didn’t Giannis set a high ball screen? They did nothing to get Giannis going downhill, instead just feeding the post.
“And then no timeout on the final play of overtime? Budenholzer really let Grayson Allen run out the clock? Unforgivable.”
Just put the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals right now and save everyone some time. https://t.co/I8yUyitKv9
— Game 7 (@game7__) April 27, 2023
It’s hard to argue with that assessment.
Budenholzer was supposed to be fired years ago, but he saved his job with a lucky NBA title win.
Will the Bucks do what they should have done a long time ago and replace Budenholzer with a coach who doesn’t wilt under pressure? Time will tell.
Charles Kruger has been credentialed to cover two Super Bowls, four NBA Finals, and one World Series. A 20-year veteran in the sports world, he has sources spanning the NBA, MLB, NFL, UFC and NASCAR. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Calif., he is Game 7’s go-to source for rumors surrounding the Lakers, Clippers and Dodgers.