MILWAUKEE Earlier this week, Bucks coach Scott Skiles was asked whether his team was respected throughout the NBA.
Of course, he said he didn't know how to answer. But if there were any question whether the Milwaukee Bucks are a legitimate playoff team in the Eastern Conference, they answered that query about as emphatically as they could with Saturday's 101-85 statement win against the Miami Heat.
After playing a great first half, the Bucks took a haymaker from the defending champions. Milwaukee opened the third quarter by making 3 of 24 shots as Miami went on a 27-6 run to take a 71-62 lead with 2:40 left in the period. The Bucks had stopped moving the ball, and the sold-out BMO Harris Bradley Center went from rocking to quiet enough to hear a small contingent of Heat fans above the dither.
Then, in perhaps its best stretch of basketball of the season, Milwaukee outscored the Heat, 42-14, the rest of the way. Playoff-like atmosphere is an overused descriptor, but the arena had...