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Game Preview: Heat visit Bucks with playoff positioning at stake

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The Milwaukee Bucks have beaten the Miami Heat three times already this season. Now the Bucks are reeling and the Heat are looking to take their playoff position.

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat are amid a very important stretch with less than a month to go in the season. The Heat have a really golden chance to make some solid headway in the Eastern Conference playoff race as they visit the Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat are trailing the Bucks by 1.5 games for the sixth place in the East. A win on Tuesday would pull the Heat within a half game of Milwaukee.

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Here's the details for the game:

Miami Heat (32-37) @ Milwaukee Bucks (34-36)
8:00 PM EST at BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI.
TV: NBA LP, SunSports (Local) // Radio: 790 the Ticket

The Heat and Bucks have met three times earlier this season, although trades and injuries have drastically altered what this matchup will present. Here's a recap of what's happened earlier this season:

November 16: Milwaukee 91, @ Miami 84 -- View the GameStream

December 5: Miami 85, @ Milwaukee 109 -- View the GameStream

January 27: Milwaukee 109, @ Miami 102 -- View the GameStream

The Heat's last game saw them get beat down bad by the Oklahoma City Thunder. But, the Bucks just came off a beat down as well from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before this, the teams were on different trajectories. Miami had won three games in a row in an inspiring fashion. The Bucks, once a team well over .500 have lost 11 of their last 13 games.

Both these teams are starting new point guards since the trade deadline deals. Here's the projecting starting lineup.

Probable Starters
Michael Carter-Williams PG Goran Dragic
Khris Middleton SG Dwyane Wade
Giannis Antetokounmpo SF Luol Deng
Ersan Ilyasova PF Udonis Haslem
Zaza Pachulia C Hassan Whiteside

The game is important for both teams. The Bucks are trying to turn things around, while Miami is looking to move forward in the standings. However, the Heat have even more to worry about as they are still trying to ward off the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers who are all within striking distance of the Heat for the final two spots in the East playoffs.

For the game in general, the Heat are going to have to deal with a scrappy front court with Ilyasova and and Pachulia. I would bet that one or both of them are going to try and get under the skin of Hassan Whiteside. He needs to be ready for that and respond with character. The Bucks aren't a great rebounding team, but they are better than the Heat.

The Heat will have to deal with the length of MCW, Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak has done some amazing things this year, even against the Heat (sorry, Chris Bosh but you did get dunked on). They will cause problems for the Heat if they are sloppy with the ball.

Most importantly, the Heat need to play 48 minutes in this game. On the road, against a young and athletic team, the Heat can't afford to relax even if they get a lead. The Bucks can erase it quickly. Miami will need a solid game from East player of the week, Dwyane Wade.

Because of how the teams are playing right now, and what's at stake, I am going to take the Heat in this one, but it will be a close one. Look for Goran Dragic to have a solid game.

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Make sure you come and join us tonight on the GameThread to chat about the game!