The Caleb Martin Show.
That’s what viewers tuned in to when they anchored on the Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks matchup Wednesday night, which ended in a 113-104 victory for the Heat.
With Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Victor Oladipo all sitting for Miami, the 14-11 Heat faced a stiff assignment: stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo and the reigning NBA champs amid a 10-1 run in their last 11 games.
Offensive production was a question for Spo and the Heat. The solution proved to be 34 minutes from Martin, the night’s top scorer. Martin recorded 28 points while adding eight rebounds and three assists.
Though stumbling in their matchup against the Raptors, snapping an eight-game win streak, the Bucks still play like prime contenders in the East — experienced recently by the Heat in a 124-102 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday.
By the end of the first half, Miami’s odds to keep up seemed unlikely, down 51-44 as Giannis was off to a cold start with nine points.
Kyle Lowry was in danger of producing another contentious performance for both sides of the fan base to quarrel over. Instead, he turned it on coming out of the half: scoring 16 in the third quarter.
In the second half, the whole team turned it on, beginning with a comeback in the third quarter as Miami scored 39 in the period against the Bucks’ 26.
Keeping the energy running for Miami in the third was Caleb Martin, mixing defender Jrue Holiday for a baseline run and slam as the Heat accrued momentum.
Another Martin highlight appeared with 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter after a Miami steal led to a breakaway dunk — this time bringing American Airlines (or FTX, for the crypto bros) to its feet and likely adding some MVP chants for Martin once the upset win was complete.
The inspired performance by Martin, a do-it-all player akin to teammate Jimmy Butler, helped fill in some significant gaps for the Heat. KZ Okpala had a nice night off the bench for Miami with 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Okpala boasted the best plus/minus on the night (+32).
Miami also got their 3-point shooting going in the second half, finishing with 22 made for the contest which proved too strong against Giannis, Khris Middleton and the Bucks.
Milwaukee’s tandem combined for 35 points, which did appear as a rare off-night for one of the NBA’s top duos.
With Martin on a two-way contract and a regressing Duncan Robinson fresh off a four-year, $90 million extension, Coach Spo faces a dilemma with possibly providing Martin a heftier role at the expense of Robinson — which he certainly made a case for tonight.
“We’re going to need our full roster to contribute,” Spoelstra added after the game. “It’ll be different guys at different times. We had some different lineups out there clearly.”
“They put me in the starting lineup because they believe in me,” Martin commented. “When my opportunity comes, I want to take advantage.”
The Heat improved to 15-11, maintaining their spot behind the No. 3 Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bucks sit at 16-10.
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