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Heading into round two of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Playoffs, the top seeded Milwaukee Bucks take on the surging Miami Heat. This matchup features two teams that took very different paths to reach the same place. The Bucks cruised their way through the regular season and had a slight hiccup in round one. The Heat fought their way to a good regular season record and cruised easily through the first round.
One path will lead to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Keys To The Game:
Miami will need to rely heavily on everyone involved, as they have already been doing. The starters are averaging 86.6 points per game so far in the playoffs and the bench does just enough to keep them balanced. The team has done a great job from behind the three point line, in most part because they do not take wild shots. Their attack the rim-kick outside plan has worked to perfection and the team is shooting a great overall percentage from the field at 46%.
The Heat will ultimately win this series on defense. They will no doubt have to stifle the efforts of Giannis Antetokounmpo and they have the bodies to do it. Miami will have to keep the Bucks off the offensive boards and limit their second chance points.
At this point Antetokounmpo is the first, middle and last line of offense for the Bucks. Milwaukee will need to push the pace and not let Miami set up their defense the way they want to. Getting out and running will not only get Antetokounmpo shots in transition, but it will also tire out the Heat players and leave them susceptible to fouls.
The Bucks should take Miami’s outside shooting seriously. They can’t get sucked into Miami drives towards the basket and leave the three point line unattended. If the Bucks can limit the open shots, Miami will find a hard time scoring in isolation situations.
Matchup To Watch:
Eric Bledsoe going against Goran Dragic could tilt the entire series either way. Dragic has been impressive, leading the Heat in scoring. Bledsoe is an effective defender, but a jump in his scoring could really put pressure on Dragic to defend him.
I think the Miami Heat are out to prove something this season but I don’t know if they have the overall guns. I like them to win this series 4-2 overall…but I can see six very close games.