When the stars weren't out in the Miami Heat's Game 3 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks, Ray Allen shined. Erik Spoelstra's team is good enough to have lackluster scoring performances from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but the eighth-seeded Bucks don't have that luxury.
Milwaukee's deadly backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis combined to shoot 7-for-24 while hitting on just 2-of-13 three-point opportunities on Thursday. Jennings led the team with 16 points and eight dimes, but it wasn't nearly enough.
"I'm seeing a lot of traps," Jennings said. "The (Miami) big men are actually doing a great job of containing me and staying with me."
It's not only overly-aggressive traps causing trouble for the undersized Milwaukee guards.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said he's purposely rotating point guards Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole onto Jennings, hoping the duo grinds on him throughout each game. Jennings even saw spurts of James and Ray Allen defending him. With that, he's been limited to causing havoc in the fullcourt, which worked for Milwaukee well in Game 3 but was negated by the Bucks' own turnovers.
The Heat have been attacking the 170-pound Jennings especially.
"He's lightening quick," Spoelstra said of Jennings. "You really do need two guys -- we went a little deeper in there (with James and Allen). You have to wear on him as much as possible. They're just throwing their bodies and trying to get in front of him as much as possible."
It worked. The Milwaukee offense forced passes in the heart of the second half, and the three-pointers -- the Bucks made 5-of-10 early on -- stopped falling. The Bucks finished shooting just 27 percent from deep.
Bucks coach Jim Boylan said that the off-the-ball defense by the Heat has been, as usual, quite dangerous. Jennings had four of the team's 20 turnovers during Thursday's 104-91 loss, and it's become apparent Miami is content making anyone other than Jennings and Ellis have to make plays.
"They're flooding the strong side and in the passing angles," Boylan said. "It's always a cross-court type pass and that's always dangerous because of their speed and activity.
"Tonight they did what they needed to do, be physical and be big, and cut off those passing angles."
Jennings' series prediction of Milwaukee winning in six games went out the window Thursday. But the confidence that caused him to make such a remark remains heading into an elimination contest, even considering his struggles against Miami.
"We're still confident," the point guard said. "I know my head is still high."
Source: All quotations courtesy of the NBA.com live media conference stream.