The Miami Heat travel to the BMO Harris Bradley Center to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in what will be their second game of a three games season series. The Heat won the first matchup at home 97-79, forcing the Bucks to shoot a paltry 32%, six percent worse than any game they had this season, and the lowest percentage since March 22nd, 2013. Heat point guard Goran Dragic led the charge offensively, scoring 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter alongside two assists and one steal. Center Hassan Whiteside also was dominant in the paint, scoring 15 points on 5-6 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds.
The Bucks lone star for the game was MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, who shot 50%, scored 22 points, and pulled down six rebounds. His ability to attack driving lanes and find open cutters, kept the team afloat in the first half, but poor shooting bogged down the team for the rest of the game. Their usually strong backcourt duo of Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton simply could not find nylon for the majority of the game, shooting a petty 7-32 on the floor combined and 1-14 from three-point range.
The Bucks look to capitalize on a depleted Heat roster and split the season series. Here is my game preview for tonight’s matchup.
Preview and Prediction: Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks
The Miami Heat’s seven-game winning streak was snapped by the red-hot Chicago Bulls, who have done a complete turnaround with the return of Nikola Mirotic and the drafting of Lauri Markkanen. The Heat struggled to defend the perimeter and move around multiple screeners, as shooting guard Justin Holiday and power forward Lauri Markkanen combined to hit 10 three-pointers. However, they shouldn’t fear the Buck’s outside prowess. Ranked 27th in the NBA in three-point percentage, the offense leans heavily on transition baskets and cutters to the basket. In a highlight against the Washington Wizards, you can see Giannis pass at a 90-degree angle to a cutting Malcolm Brogdon for an easy layup. His court vision and ball-handling skills makes it very difficult to match up with someone of his size and versatility. With the 7’0 wingspan of Giannis, he is able to easily attack defenders off the dribble or from hand-offs and attack the basket. His length allows him to cause havoc on the defensive end, contesting numerous shots in the paint and sending shots back to Greece.
The Heat, however, can live with Giannis’s all-around potency, as long as his supporting cast doesn’t get hot. Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe is definitely one on caution list. He must be contained and accounted for throughout the night, as he is averaging 18 points and 4 assists a night. He is deadly in transition, showing his uncanny ability to hit from deep and pass to open shooters.
Tonight, the Heat will also be without shooting guard Tyler Johnson, a huge sparkplug off the bench for the Heat. He is averaging 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists a game. This snowball continues to roll down for this Heat roster, as they already witnessed Dion Waiters season-ending ankle injury and Rodney McGruder’s leg surgery during training camp. This will mean shooting guard Wayne Ellington will receive more minutes to compensate for this loss. This will reduce the Heat’s bench depth tremendously, who’s only efficient scorer is center Kelly Olynck.
Around this same time last year, these two teams squared off in their second game of their season-series and resulted in a Bucks victory. I see the Bucks making the proper adjustments once again in this second matchup with them finding ways to get their backcourt duo shooting efficiently. The Heat cannot rely on just Dragic and Whiteside to score for this team. They will need Justice Winslow, Bam Adebayo, and Wayne Ellington step up tremendously to pull off this road win.