Winning the first two games of their opening round playoff series only gets the Milwaukee Bucks halfway to making up for their loss to the Miami Heat in last year’s postseason. But the Bucks looked good doing it with a close overtime decision in Game 1 and a blowout in Game 2. Milwaukee made changes to its roster this season after playoff failures in each of the previous two campaigns after posting the NBA’s best regular season record. The focus was on the postseason this time and so far the strategy has worked. The Bucks are a 1.5-point favorite on the NBA betting line to take a commanding lead in the series.
This NBA playoff game takes place on Thursday, May 27, 2021 and will air live on TNT with tip off at 7:30 p.m. ET from American Airlines Arena.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat Odds
Spread: Milwaukee Bucks -1.5 | Miami Heat +1.5
Money Line: Milwaukee Bucks -120 | Miami Heat +100
Season to Date
Having the best record in the league the previous two seasons meant absolutely nothing for the Bucks, who failed to reach the Finals both times and were eliminated by the Heat in the second round last year. The team made a few adjustments to its roster and while the overall record wasn’t as good this season, the team is better suited for a deeper playoff push.
The core of the group remains intact and with two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo motivated for better things, the Bucks are a threat. The highest scoring team in the NBA, the Bucks showed off on Monday hitting 22 three-pointers in their 132-98 victory. They’re averaging 123 points in five games against Miami and dropped 144 during a regular season meeting in the AAA.
The pressure was on Milwaukee in the first two games needing to win at home and they did that. Now it’s Miami’s turn to feel the heat as they attempt to get back in the series. It’s clear what needs to happen for the Heat to breakthrough. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo were huge in Miami’s playoff upset last year, but they struggled in the first two games.
Butler is averaging 13.5 points and Adebayo is averaging 12.5. “We know what we have to do,” Butler said. The two led the team in scoring during the regular season with Butler at 21.6 points and Adebayo at 18.7. The Heat aren’t a force offensively and they desperately those two players on the offensive end in order to be competitive.
I doubt the Bucks will ease up since they have something to prove this postseason. They can also send a message to the other teams in the conference that they are a force. While Miami’s stars are struggling the Bucks are getting huge contributions from their top players. Khris Middleton hit the game winner in the opener and is averaging 22 points per game and Giannis is doing what he always does.
Antetokounmpo launched 50 shots in the first two games and is averaging 28.5 points, 15.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists. He scored 31 in the Game 2 blowout adding 13 boards and six assists. “I’m going to be aggressive the whole series, make or miss,” Antetokounmpo said. Starters also got some down time in the fourth quarter saving their legs for the rest of the series. None of the five played more than 31 minutes.
Miami isn’t going to outscore many clubs. They averaged just 108.1 points during the regular season. What they need to do is play defense, and they need to play a lot better than they did in Game 2. The Heat were a top-5 defensive club during the year surrendering 108 points per game. They haven’t had a lot of success slowing down the Bucks this season allowing 123 points in five games while going 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS. In their only win they held the Bucks to 108 points.
The Heat also need a better start. Game 2 was over before they knew what hit them. Milwaukee scored 46 first quarter points and led by 26 points after the opening frame. “They made a lot shots, but we didn’t make anything difficult on them or take anything away,” Butler said after Game 2. I expect Butler and the rest of the team will come out fighting since that’s what the Heat do. But they are facing an opponent that’s highly motivated and really good. It will take a herculean effort to get back in the series.
Bucks vs Heat Prediction
Our picks: Milwaukee Bucks -1.5 and UNDER 227.5
Showing they can win playing different styles the Bucks have a chance to take a big lead in the series. Giannis is motivated after missing the final game of last year’s playoff loss and the Bucks are built for the postseason. That doesn’t mean they win this game, but they don’t want to face any pressure moving forward. Miami will be better defensively giving value to the UNDER, but they don’t have the horses to win the game.
Check out today’s NBA odds.