It was the worst-case scenario for the number one seed Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 as star Giannis Antetounkumpo sustained a lower back after hitting the ground hard on a drive to the rim. His injury status has a lot of pull for how the rest of this series can go, potentially leaving a major void in the Bucks production should he continue to rest. Especially in game two as he is already listed as Doubtful, giving me pause before making a wager as I want to see if he is playing or not. Find more on how shifting odds can affect the prediction for Bucks vs Heat below.
Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks Prediction
The Pick: Heat +8 if Giannis is out, pass if playing
As I alluded to earlier, be sure to monitor the injury status of Giannis as his availability heavily dictates how I wager on this game. Should he opt out of game two, I will take the Heat at no lower than +6 as they should expose the Bucks interior with ease like they did in game one. Should Giannis be good to go, I will most likely pass on this as I am not sure how the Bucks will perform with him clearly not playing at 100%.
Especially on the defensive end as his absence opened the interior for the Heat to routinely attack. Miami is a weak perimeter threat, relying on efficient mid-range and interior scoring to skate past opponents. When Giannis was ruled out, that gave Miami the green light to constantly attack the interior for high quality scoring opportunities that Milwaukee could not slow down.
Especially from their guard play, seemingly finding the gaps and back door opportunities with ease. Jimmy Butler was a maestro in game one, finishing game one with 11 assists to go with his 35 points. Losing Tyler Herro to an injury hurts their shooting versatility yet the Heat should have little issue generating open looks from their secondary scorers should Butler find the same success in slashing the interior.
Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks Betting Odds
Before Giannis popped up on the injury report, oddsmakers believed they were going to rout the Heat at full strength as they opened the Bucks as a -8.5 favorite. That number has since shot down since Giannis was listed as Doubtful, dropping down to as low as -5.5. Bettors were quick to back the Bucks at that number, taking it up to the now widely available -6.5.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 220. Bettors have backed the idea of a sluggish performance on both ends, taking the under down to as low as 218.5 as of writing. This line movement brings intrigue as the Bucks offense should rely heavier on facilitation and perimeter production without Giannis which may result in an uptick in scoring should they catch fire early.
- Over is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings against each other
- Heat are 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings overall
- Over is 6-0 in the last six meetings in Milwaukee
Can the Heat continue to limit the Bucks interior looks?
Bam Adebayo Vs. Bucks interior scoring
The Heat’s defense regressed in comparison to years past but are still formidable as they smother opposing looks in the interior. This is in large part of Bam Adebayo progressing as one of the better low post defenders in the league, anchoring the paint as an elite shot blocker.
Should Giannis not be able to give it a go then this stretches out the Bucks offense as they lose a brunt of their interior scoring production. Jimmy Butler is expected to pick up Khris Middleton, limiting his scoring opportunities as one of the best on-ball defenders in the league.
With Middleton’s slashing negated, Bam can sit back in the paint and dare the likes of Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen to attack him. Should they settle for perimeter looks, Bam can in turn stretch out a little to shade towards Brook Lopez who has developed a jump shot as well.
Be sure to monitor the injury status of Giannis as he heavily dictates how this game should go. If he’s ruled out, take the Heat at no lower than +6. If he plays, wait to see how he moves before firing on a live bet.
Miami Heat Starting Lineup
Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineups
Miami Heat Injuries: Kyle Lowry (Q), Tyler Herro (O), Nikola Jovic (O)
Milwaukee Bucks Injuries: Giannis Antetokounmpo (D), Wesley Matthews (O)