Look at our in-depth analysis below, including our betting picks and predictions, the projected starting lineups, and the updated injury reports for both teams to see who we believe can pull out the victory.
Miami Heat Vs. Milwaukee Bucks Betting Odds
The Milwaukee Bucks are 1.5-point home favorites against the Miami Heat on Friday night. Milwaukee will have to try and sneak away with a home win without Giannis Antetokounmpo, Wesley Matthews, and Pat Connaughton.
Meanwhile, Omer Yurtseven, Kyle Lowry, and Nikola Jovic are all listed as out for Miami. Tyler Herro is day-to-day, so keep an eye on his status leading up to tip-off.
Miami Heat Vs. Milwaukee Bucks Prediction
Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks dodged a huge bullet; Antetokounmpo seemed to suffer a scary wrist injury that could sideline him for a while, but it luckily turned out to just be a sprain.
Still, the timing of this injury is a bummer for the Bucks, who had been playing their best basketball of the season. As a matter of fact, Milwaukee has won 12 straight games. During that stretch, Milwaukee had a net rating of 11.2, including a 119.5 offensive rating and a 108.3 defensive rating.
The Bucks had struggled quite a bit offensively in the beginning and middle of the 2022-23 season, but since Khris Middleton’s return, their confidence on that end of the floor has been sky-high.
What is interesting is that most of Middleton’s averages in that period are well below his usual output; he has posted 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists on a 48/31/96 shooting split.
Middleton’s presence is undeniable, though, and when he gets his three-point stroke back, Milwaukee could be borderline unbeatable.
The Heat have had a disappointing season after coming just one game short of another NBA Finals appearance last year. Now, Miami sits in seventh place in the Eastern Conference just one season after being the No. 1 seed in the East.
This is largely due to a drop-off in defense (25th in opponent eFG% and 21st in opponent 3P% this season) and a continued struggle on offense (28th in 3P% and 27th in eFG%.)
Further, the Heat have dropped five of their past seven road games, with the only wins coming against the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Miami has 32 wins only because it has been able to grind out low-scoring games. The only problem: Milwaukee doesn’t mind playing that kind of game. I will ride with the Bucks against the spread, even without Giannis.
- Miami is 12-16-1 ATS on the road in 2022-23
- Milwaukee is 18-11 ATS at home in 2022-23
- The combined over record of these two teams is 55-62 in 2022-23
Our key matchup for what could end up being a playoff series in a few months consists of Khris Middleton versus Jimmy Butler. Check out the breakdown of this matchup below!
Khris Middleton vs. Jimmy Butler
With Giannis Antetokounmpo set to miss at least this game and potentially more, can Khris Middleton take the reins and start to resemble his old self?
Middleton, who has missed most of the 2022-23 season, will be playing his first game of the season without Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup. Thus, he will be forced to be the co-primary offensive weapon for Milwaukee along with Jrue Holiday.
In his past ten games without Antetokounmpo, Middleton has scored 22 or more points eight times. Even more impressive is his playmaking, which increases substantially, too. He has recorded five or more assists in eight of his past ten matchups without the “Greek Freak.”
In short, he does not seem to have an issue stepping up in Giannis’ absence.
On the other hand, the last time Jimmy Butler played at Milwaukee, he finished with 32 points, eight rebounds, and three assists; however, in the prior road game before that one, Butler only finished with six points, three rebounds, and two assists.
Regardless, the way Milwaukee has been playing defense has been incredible: a defensive rating of 108.3, and a top-ten pace in the NBA, is too great to ignore. That combination is increasingly rare.
Middleton’s defense on Butler should be tough, and I like Middleton to return to his previous offensive form here. Advantage: Middleton.
Miami Heat Starting Lineup
Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineups
Miami Heat Injuries: Kyle Lowry (Out), Omer Yurtseven (Out), Nikola Jovic (Out), Tyler Herro (Q)
Milwaukee Bucks Injuries: Giannis Antetokounmpo (D), Pat Connaughton (D), Wesley Matthews (Out)