Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat Pick
Milwaukee Bucks (51-17, 40-25-3 ATS) vs. Miami Heat (32-35, 36-31 ATS)
When: Friday, March 15th, 2019 – 8:00 pm ET
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena – Miami, FL
By: Kyle Cash, NBA Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIL -5/MIA +5
Last Night in the NBA
I told you that I didn’t like breaking down the Lakers. It’s a joyless team, and I take no pleasure in their victories or defeats… or my defeats. In fact, LeBron’s nihilist attitude is making their implosion harder for me to enjoy which is, in turn, making my disdain for him grow even more. If you’re going to be bad AND unpredictable, then I have no room for you in my life.
Meanwhile, in the world of competitive basketball, Indiana continued to use black magic to keep their home-court dreams alive, Luka and Jokic may have ignited a literal war between two Eastern European countries by trading game winners, and Zion Williamson decided that last night was not the night for him to miss a shot. That last one wasn’t NBA-related, but it’s in my contract that I have to mention him every 250 words. Please bear with me. But, if you played DJ’s pick, hopefully that win offset the Lakers loss.
There’s worse ways to spend your Friday night than with conference tournaments and Free NBA League Pass, and I’ll be sprinkling in a dash of Halo Top and Game of Thrones to really make this a standout evening. I’m surprisingly delighted to see a match-up down in South Beach as the Milwaukee Bucks lumber into town to take on the Miami Heat. It’s strange seeing two healthy teams in mid-March, but it’s good for business as we have a 5-point spread in favor of the visitors with the total set to 220 points. It’s getting hot in here!
Get Him To The Greek
As the best player on the NBA’s lone 50-win team, I think it’s safe to say that Giannis Antetokounmpo is having an MVP-level year. To me, the biggest factors to consider when it comes to this award are your role in the team’s success, statistical benchmarks, and narrative. Giannis is the two-way engine of the most successful regular season team in basketball and is nearly averaging Shaq numbers while maintaining his status as the most like-able rising star in the league. I’m going to go ahead and mark that down as a W. Harden’s scoring has been equal parts incredible and horrifying, and he definitely has the first two checked off. But I don’t think that the media wants to reward Harden again when his team is going to win 12 less games. Sorry, James.
Before Giannis can snag the MVP, he’s going to try to snag the Larry O’Brien trophy for Milwaukee. To do so, the Bucks will have to face the 8th seed in the first round, and this just so happens to be a preview of that potential match-up. Giannis’ game is teetering on unstoppable, but the Heat didn’t get the memo and have held him to 21 total points in two contests this year. It goes without saying that the Bucks needs Giannis to shine in order to stay competitive.
But basketball is a team sport for a reason, and Milwaukee has really been impressive under Coach Bud. They are top five in the league in Offensive Rating, Defensive Rating, point differential, points scored, field goal percentage, blocked shots and rebounding. However, this is their third and final road game of the trip, and a young team high on its own success in Miami combined with the fatigue of 68 prior contests might make for some tired legs on the court tonight. You know how I feel about road teams heading into Miami, and even the honorable Giannis is no exception.
Turn Up The Heat
To me, it honestly just doesn’t seem very fair. You’re telling me that the people of Miami get to enjoy perfect weather in perpetuity AND their NBA team can win the division with a sub-500 record? This is an outrage! Wait, what’s that? NBA doesn’t care about divisions? And the Dolphins have only won the division once in Tom Brady’s career, and it was the year he was hurt? Huh. Okay, never mind! Take your stupid meaningless division title, Heat fans. You can have it.
If only it guaranteed them a play-off spot. Instead, it most likely only gains them the opportunity to get swept by the above team in the first round.
Unless, that is, the Heat can crank up the pressure and smoke the Bucks out. It’s a known fact that Giannis’ jump shot is still a work in progress, and smart coaches know how to game plan for someone with such an obvious weakness. Boston was able to utilize the Stan Van Gundy Memorial “FORM A ****ING WALL!” defense last year against both Antetokounmpo and Ben Simmons, and there’s no doubt that Coach Spo has mimicked the strategy.
For the Heat to keep this one respectable, they would be wise to go against their normal 25th ranked pace and kick it up a notch. With young athletes like Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Bam Adebayo to throw at Giannis and savvy ball handlers like Dragic, Wade, and yes, Dion Waiters, they’ve shown the tools to make life miserable for teams on both ends. Just ask the Detroit Pistons. And if all else fails, they can sub in Udonis Haslem and try to get Giannis ejected for fighting. Lots of options tonight.
I like Miami here especially with an extra half point right now at Bookmaker. There’s no doubt that the Milwaukee Bucks outrank the Heat in size, skill, talent, and athleticism. This is an incredible team in the midst of an incredible season. Miami has had bouts of greatness, particularly on the defensive end, but this team doesn’t have championship aspirations in the way that Milwaukee does. They want to try to ugly up a playoff series or two, and then regroup for the summer where they can try to frame Hassan Whiteside for murder to get out from under his contract. But I have my alarm set for “D-Wade Time,” and the daylight savings pushed his timetable up one hour. Miami has the defensive skill set to keep the Greek Freak busy in customs, and provided that his elbow injury doesn’t hold him out, this is a game where Dwyane with a “ya” flies the plane coming down the stretch. If he can’t go, we can always take a ferry over to Waiters Island and check for any sign of life. I can’t promise a victory, but I can promise a cover – and that’s really all we care about, right?
Final Score Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks 104 – Miami Heat 102
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