The Milwaukee Bucks have dominated pool play so far in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament. They are undefeated (3-0) and sit at the top of Group B in the Eastern Conference, but their toughest test is waiting for them in Miami with Jimmy Butler and the Heat.
Miami, who is 2-1 in pool play so far, has struggled with injuries to start the season. Tyler Herro has dealt with a Grade-2 ankle sprain since early November, and multiple key players have been listed as day-to-day, yet the Heat still sit pretty at number 6 in the Eastern Conference (10-7). The reigning Eastern Conference champions never seem to be an easy matchup for any team and play aggressively until the clock hits 0.
Some key names on the injury report for this game include Khris Middleton (Achilles), Jimmy Butler (Ankle), and Bam Adebayo (Hip). All 3 players are questionable for Tuesday night’s In-Season Tournament matchup. Both Butler and Adebayo are the stars of the Miami Heat franchise. If either of them sits out, it would be an obvious blow to Miami and their chances of winning the division. For the case of Milwaukee, it would boost the potential of staying undefeated even if Middleton decides the Achilles isn’t ready to go. Other game-time decisions include Heat players Haywood Highsmith (Back) and Duncan Robinson (Thumb).
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks Must Look to Stay Aggressive and Attack in Transition
If the Bucks want to clinch the division and move to the quarterfinals, it all starts with Giannis Antetokounmpo. In the last 3 matchups versus the Heat, Giannis has averaged 32.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Getting him going early will open up shots for the rest of the team. Especially the Bucks newest addition Damian Lillard, who is coming off a 31-point performance in the largest comeback of the season (26 points) versus his former team, the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Bucks are also the best team in the NBA when it comes to playing transition offense. The Heat struggled to shoot the ball consistently, shooting just over 46% as a team on the season. So, getting quick stops on defense and running in transition should be the main focus for this team to succeed.
Most free throws attempted this season:
306 — Giannis and Dame
299 — Grizzlies
293 — Spurs
290 — Nets
285 — Rockets pic.twitter.com/vOGA5EbjVC
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 26, 2023
Getting to the free throw line is another point of emphasis for Milwaukee in this matchup. Antetokounmpo and Lillard have a combined 306 free throw attempts this season. That is more attempts at the line than the Grizzlies, Spurs, Nets, and Rockets have as a team! The Bucks 2 stars may have more combined free throws than whole NBA rosters, but the Heat give up the 2nd fewest fouls in the league and take pride in their defensive toughness. This will not be an easy task to accomplish for Milwaukee.
Tip-off for tonight’s matchup will air at 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time on TNT. The winner will clinch their spot in the Quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament. If the Bucks end up losing, they will have to hope for the Knicks, Celtics, and Nets to lose their matchups. If that happens, they will play in the wildcard game to have a chance to make the Quarterfinals.