Miami. American Airlines Arena. 28.05.2021
Milwaukee grabbed the lead in the series with Miami, winning two home games, and now they need to take at least one of the two away games to build on that lead. The Heat beat the Bucks in the last playoff series, can they find that game and salvage the series?
Miami’s current form
The Heat have struggled to climb to 6th place in the Eastern Conference, and numerous injuries are to blame. Compared to last season, the team is more vulnerable and still lacks quality bench players at times. Had Victor Oladipo not been traded, the roster depth would have been slightly better, though it's unlikely Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk would have saved the day. Trevor Ariza and Dwayne Dedmon aren't as reliable on defense as I'd like them to be, and you still have to cover Tyler Hirro and Duncan Robinson. Jimmy Butler had some health issues during the regular season, and it's not certain he'll be fully recovered by the postseason. Now, at least nearly all of the strongest players are back on track: only Oladipo is out until the fall.
In the first game, the Heat nearly beat Milwaukee by 3-pointers, but still lost in overtime by 2 points. The night before Erik Spoelstra's team had no chance at all: 98-132. Their defense was utterly flawed at the arc, Giannis was constantly thrown under the basket, and Jimmy Butler's play didn't improve at all. Miami made only 8 of 28 three-pointers this time, with Duncan Robinson hitting just 2 of them. Surprisingly, Dwayne Dedmon was the highest scorer on the team with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Milwaukee’s current form
"The Bucks strategically took a step back in order to make two forwards. The coaching staff experimented a lot, and the team finished only 3rd in the East, but there were plenty of tweaks. Jrue Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo are useful not only on offense, but also on defense, making up a killer bunch of haslers. Overall, the team is stacked with good defensive players, although that same Bryn Forbes can slump. P.J. Tucker is capable of giving 20-25 quality minutes, and his 2-3 shots from the corner will be more than enough. Milwaukee has no roster problems, with only Thanasis Antetokounmpo out due to injury.
Mike Budenholzer's team had trouble winning the first game against the Heat, but they still had plenty of energy. Milwaukee played much better on offense in Game 2 and led by as many as 26 points after one quarter. Just about everything was going in from beyond the arc for the Bucks, and Bryn Forbes was unstoppable: Six made three-pointers and 22 points. Giannis hit just one three-pointer in 7 attempts, but even the Greek made more free throws. Antetokounmpo was very comfortable in the paint and made 12 of 23 shots from the field. He scored 31 points, his best performance on the team.
Expert Betting Tips
This playoff series is all about defense, and Miami is more vulnerable in that regard. In addition, Jimmy Butler is still not at his best: in 2 games he hit just 7 of 32 shots from the field. His back problems at the end of the season may be taking their toll. Yes, Milwaukee hit 22 three-pointers in the last game, but even that low realization isn't critical. That same Antetokounmpo will probably continue to shoot a lot, and he's capable of producing decent percentages in individual games. Holiday and Middleton have not shown all they can do, so there are far more favorable outcomes for the visitors than for the home team. I suggest the following betting options:
- Total over 226.5 at odds of 1.9
- Milwaukee to win 1.7
- Giannis Antetokounmpo: Total three-pointers over 1.5 with odds 2.50