Milwaukee at Miami
Time: 6:30 PM CST (NBA TV)
Spread: MIA -5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Milwaukee Bucks continue to cruise, entering tonight’s NBA TV showdown with the Miami Heat as 5-point favorites. Milwaukee has won six straight and is 52-8 on the season. It is 33-4 against fellow Eastern Conference teams. The Bucks sport the NBA’s highest-powered offense at 119.6 points per game, and the over/under for this affair is set at 226.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
Milwaukee has been outstanding thus far and has wholly dominated its competition with its 52-8 record thus far. Milwaukee is 33-4 against Eastern Conference opponents.
The Bucks are No. 1 NBA in scoring at 119.6 points per game, and it allows just 106.9 per game. The Bucks have a win differential of +12.8 points. Milwaukee is the league’s best rebounding team, too, averaging 51.8 boards per contest.
Giannis Antetokounmpo may finally win his elusive MVP award, too. The Greek forward is averaging 30 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game while posting a silly-high PER of 33.50. That does not even take his defensive talents into play, where he averages 2.3 steals/blocks per game while playing outstanding one-on-one defense.
Khris Middleton is the No. 2 scorer at 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. Eric Bledsoe is the third-option after Middleton with 15.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. George Hill has been a great sixth man for the Bucks. He is scoring 10 points and dishing three assists per game in just 21 minutes a night.
Veteran center Brook Lopez has been somewhat effective, but his 30.4 percent three-point shooting on 4.8 attempts per game certainly helps keep defenses honest and spreads the court for the Bucks. Lastly, Donte DiVincenzo has stepped into the same role he served at Villanova for the Bucks. He is providing a spark. The second-year guard is averaging 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in just 22.6 minutes per game. He has also started 20 games this season. The Bucks are legitimate contenders, now that the Warriors dynasty has come to its end, and also because LeBron James headed to the Western Conference.
The Miami Heat lead the Southeast division as one of the NBA’s early surprise teams. Miami has won its last two and is 38-22 thus far. Miami has won just four of its last 10 overall, though.
The Heat seems to be really adapting to having Jimmy Butler as its leader. He has increased the defensive intensity, and Miami’s offense ranks No. 13 at 112.1 points per game while holding opponents to 108.4, a win differential of +3.7 points.
Miami has moved past the play of Hassan Whiteside and instead promoted Bam Adebayo as the premier big man of the team. He has fully responded. Adebayo is averaging 15.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game while functioning as a post playmaker. Butler is the key cog, though, at 20.3 points and 7 assists per game. That is not to ignore the great play of undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn, the No.2 scorer behind Butler at 16.2 points and 3.5 assists per game. For a team that was expected to have offensive issues, it has been far from the case. Miami is shooting 47.3 percent from the floor and 37.9 percent on threes (33.7 attempts per game). Rounding out the rotation is veteran point guard Goran Dragic and rookie Tyler Herro. Both have been essential.
While Dragic’s role has declined, he is still seeing 28.4 minutes per game and averaging just under 16 points per game. Herro is already a key rotation player, playing 27.7 minutes per game and averaging 13.2 points per game while shooting 39.2 percent from three. All in all, the Heat are both a deep and talented team and far better than expected. Credit some of that to Erik Spoelstra, but the rest of the credit falls on a team of players that are all outperforming preseason expectations. The Heat should be able to contend in the East. It poses a formidable threat to all of the contending teams, including the No. 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks.
The Heat is wired for playoff success, and its acquisition of Andre Iguodala seems to be a move in that direction, towards better playoff success.