Many questions came to mind halfway through Game 2 of the first-round NBA playoff series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat. How did the Bucks score that many points? Where is the Heat defense? Is this series already over?
However, the eye-opening box score begged one question more than the rest: Who is Bryn Forbes?
The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Miami Heat in overtime in Game 1
In a rematch from round two of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2020, the higher-seeded Milwaukee Bucks once again drew the Miami Heat in 2021. The series should be a tough, tightly contested series just as it was the year before when the Heat prevailed, four games to one.
Game 1 certainly lived up to expectations.
The game went back and forth throughout. The Heat took a two-point lead at the end of the first quarter only to see the Bucks go into halftime with a three-point lead. Miami would cut the lead to two at the end of the third, and the teams ended regulation deadlocked at 99 after a late Jimmy Butler layup.
With the clock running out in overtime, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton dribbled and drove on his defender, Duncan Robinson. The 6’7” swingman got to the foul line extended, and buried a fall-away jumper with just 0.5 seconds remaining to give the Bucks a 1-0 series lead.
The Bucks put up 78 points in the first half of Game 2
In Game 2, the Bucks came out firing. They scored early and often and didn’t stop until they scored an incredible 78 points in the first half. The team as a whole was hot from downtown, but Bryn Forbes led the way hitting five of eight 3-pointers to go into the locker room as the Bucks leading scorer with 19.
The Bucks blistering first half set several team and personal records. The 78 points and 15 made 3-pointers are both franchise playoff records for Milwaukee. Forbes’ 19 points is a personal playoff career-high.
After making 30/53 field goals and shooting 52% from three in the first, the Bucks cooled off in the second half but continued to protect their large lead. Forbes hit one more from deep, and the Bucks ended with 22 made 3-pointers, a playoff record. That number is still one away from their regular-season franchise record of 29 made threes.
After the 132-98 win, the Bucks have a 2-0 series lead.
Bryn Forbes is a fifth-year NBA player from Michigan State
Lightly recruited out of high school in Lansing, MI, Forbes signed to play basketball at Cleveland State. According to NBA.com, the 6’2” guard was named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year in 2013 and, in 2014, made second-team All-Horizon League.
These small school exploits allowed Forbes to transfer to his hometown Michigan State where the sharpshooter made All-Big Ten Second Team in 2016 and still holds the Big Ten recorded for most 3-pointers in a game with 11 against Rutgers that same year.
Undrafted out of college, Forbes caught on playing on the San Antonio Spurs Summer League team. According to the Lansing State Journal, Coach Greg Popovich liked his range and encouraged the young player to just “shoot it.”
Forbes bounced between the NBA and the G League his rookie year before catching on with the Spurs and playing in 80, 82, and 63 games the next three seasons. His shooting skills earned him a 2-yr/$4.8M contract from the Bucks in the 2020 offseason.
After the big game from Forbes, a few more questions remain. Was this just a fun fluke? Or, is Forbes a player who can step up and help take the Bucks to the promised land that many think they’re one scorer short of reaching?
We’ll find out starting n Game 3 on Thursday, May 27, in Miami.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference