Featured Video from Scott Steehn
When and where: March 15, 2019, American Airlines Arena, 8:00 PM ET
The Miami Heat will have their hands full on Friday when they welcome the Milwaukee Bucks for a head-to-head Eastern Conference tilt. After a lackluster performance against the San Antonio Spurs, the Bucks bounced back with offensive style on Tuesday when they dropped 130 points on the New Orleans Pelicans. Meanwhile, the Heat are coming off a blowout win at home over the Detroit Pistons.
Bucks blow out the Pelicans in response to criticism
A little doubt was starting to creep in after the Bucks dropped the road game to the Spurs. They had suddenly slipped to 2-3 in their last five games, including a bad loss on the road to the Phoenix Suns. There was talk that the regular season version of the Bucks wouldn’t hold up in the playoffs when faced with elite opposition.
That talk seems to follow any new team on the come-up, and there has been no other team in the Eastern Conference as fiery as the Bucks have been this season. They have essentially gone from finishing seventh in their conference to potentially ending the season with the best record in the NBA.
On Tuesday, they put many of those concerns to bed by dominating a tough Pelicans team on the road. While the team struggled from 3-pointer, they shot the ball well inside the arc and finished with a combined 49.5 field goal shooting percentage. All five of their starters scored in double digits in the game, including Nikola Mirotic contributing 14 points off the bench.
Antetokounmpo finished with a team-high 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Khris Middleton netted 23 points, five rebounds and seven assists in the 130-113 victory.
The Heat crush the Pistons
The Heat took advantage of the Pistons in what was clearly an offensively-challenged night for them on Wednesday. They couldn’t get anything to fall consistently, and Blake Griffin, the team’s leading scorer, went 4-of-9 from the field and only mustered 13 points, which ended up being a team-high.
“Just a professional win by us tonight,” Heat legendary guard Dwyane Wade said after the game, via ESPN.com. “We played against a team that wasn’t making shots early, and we continued to keep going at them and continued to keep applying pressure.”
On the opposite end of the floor, the Heat took it to the Pistons on offense, finishing with a 46.4 field goal shooting percentage. They were even able to out-rebound the Pistons’ monstrous front court combination of Griffin and Andre Drummond.
Forward Justise Winslow finished the game with a team-high 16 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Dion Waiters netted 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in the 108-74 blowout win.
- Heat are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games against teams with a winning road record
- Heat are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Friday games
- Under is 9-4 in Heat last 13 games against teams in the Eastern Conference
- Under is 11-5 in Heat last 16 after scoring 100 points or more in the previous game
- Bucks are 16-6-1 ATS in their last 23 games against teams with a losing straight up record
- Bucks are 13-5 ATS in their last 18 after scoring 100 points or more in the previous game
- Bucks are 18-7-2 ATS in their last 27 road games
- Bucks are 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 road games against teams with a losing home record
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Bucks should have received a nice confidence boost in routing the Pelicans on the road, which should propel them in Friday’s game against the Heat. While the Heat are still fighting for their playoff life, the Bucks are trying to close out the season with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. That means they’ll have to keep winning to stay ahead of the Toronto Raptors.
The Heat lost by nearly 40 points the last time these two teams played. Granted, that contest took place at the Fiserv Forum, but it did show how far the Bucks have come as a team more so than the December game, when the Heat shut down their offense and held Antetokounmpo to only nine points. They aren’t bottling that beast in the rubber match, and Antetokounmpo will run roughshod over any defender in his way.
Miami has one of the best defensive teams in the league, but the same can’t be said about their offense, which is ranked 23rd in efficiency. The Bucks have too much balance for a good, not great, team like the Heat to handle this late in the season. A couple post-slam dunk scowls from Antetokounmpo will tell the entire story of this game as the Bucks get a second consecutive win on the road.
Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks (-4.5)
Full-Game Total Pick
The under is 16-5-1 in the last 22 head-to-head meetings in Miami between the Bucks and Heat. This game features two of the league’s best defenses. The Bucks struggled the last time they played in South Beach, and although I expect a much better effort from them in the rubber match, the Heat will still make this game difficult. Points won’t be easy to come by in this one. I’ll stick with the under when placing my bet here.
Prediction: Under (220)