The World Champion Milwaukee Bucks will host top seeded Miami Heat tonight at Fiserv Forum. The reigning champions currently trail Miami by four games for the top spot in the eastern conference. So far this NBA season, these two teams have played a total of three times, two of which were lopsided affairs. Milwaukee will look to even the seasons series and inch one game closer to a higher seed for the NBA playoffs.
As mentioned above, Miami leads the season series 2-1. So far, the home team has won each game. In two of the three games, the winning team won in convincing fashion. Most notable, Miami annihilated Milwaukee game two of the season. The 42 point loss is just outside the top five worst losses in franchise history according to landofbasketball.com. In the second game of the series, Milwaukee won by 22 points. The third game was much closer. Each game this season witnessed much lower scoring than the previous game. Don’t expect a track meet tonight with a high point total.
Keys to the Game
Miami could be considered one of the teams to invent and deploy the “build a wall” defense against Giannis. When teams have used this defense, Giannis is most successful being a facilitator first, scorer second. For Milwaukee to come out on top tonight, Giannis will need to be patient. If Giannis works to get Jrue, Khris and Bobby going, his opportunities will present themselves as the Heat have to adjust defensively.
Guard the Three
In Milwaukee’s two losses to Miami, the Heat have 18.5 three pointers made, shooting 44.8%. Running players like Tyler Hero, Duncan Robinson and Gabe Vincent off the three point line will be key to coming away with a victory. It should be worth nothing that Miami has shot over 50% in total during both games as well. Look for Jevon Carter to continue his defensive intensity and cause Miami’s guard to be uncomfortable.
Win the Turnover Battle
Against Charlotte, Milwaukee’s starters took relatively good care of the ball. Miami, however, turns the ball over among the highest in the league at 14.7 per game (25th) in the NBA. This number is a little over one more than Milwaukee who sits at 13.6 per game (12th) in the NBA. Winning the points off turnovers statistic could very well be the ticket that wins the game.
Injuries and Betting Numbers
For the Milwaukee Bucks, the injury report remains unchanged. Brook Lopez will still be sidelined while recovering from back surgery and George Hill is recovering from a neck injury. As for Miami, Kyle Lowry who was acquired this offseason remains out along with Markieff Morris and Victor Oladipo.
According to ESPN Gamecast, Milwaukee is a 4.5 point favorite with a 224.5 over/under. Milwaukee is given a 52.2% chance of winning. Miami is nine games over and Milwaukee is 9 games under .500 against the spread. I would expect a close game and low scoring with both teams having a full days rest to prepare for this game and the eastern conference playoff race tighter than ever. It’s a shame this game isn’t a nationally televised game.
On a side note, on this day in NBA history, Miami Heat adopted their current NBA logo in 1988. 1,000 entries were submitted but Mark Henderson’s design was ultimately selected.
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