Tomorrow at 8PM ET, the Milwaukee Bucks will host the Miami Heat at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This will be the fourth and final time the two will face each other this season, excepting the unlikely possiblity that the two end the season with the fourth and fifth seed for the NBA Playoffs. The Heat defeated the Bucks twice in Miami, 96-73 on November 17th and 109-97 on January 21st (more on that below), and lost to them their last time in Milwaukee, 116-108 on January 13th. Coincidentally, that’s the last time that Miami lost a game.
Miami is playing in the second game of a four-game road trip. They started it out with a 115-113 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night (more on that below), and will go on to play the Brooklyn Nets on Friday and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday before returning home. They’re also, in case you didn’t already know, the proud owners of an 11-game winning streak.
The Bucks just completed a three game road trip, losing to the Utah Jazz 104-88 on Wednesday and the Denver Nuggets 121-117 on Friday before ending it on a good note with a 137-112 win against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday (more on that below). After tonight’s game, they’ll remain in Milwaukee to host the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night before hitting the road again.
The last time Miami faced the Bucks was on January 21st, just two-and-a-half weeks ago. Miami earned their third straight win in the affair, winning by a 109-97 score. Dion Waiters scored 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting, including five-of-eight from outside to lead Miami. He was bolstered by Goran Dragic, with 25 points and six assists, Hassan Whiteside, who scored 16 with 15 boards, and Wayne Ellington, with 15 points and five rebounds. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Jabari Parker came off the bench for 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
Those guys were making so many shots I almost shot a 3. They take our team to another whole level when they play like that. - Hassan Whiteside
Miami’s last contest was a 115-113 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, on Monday night. Goran Dragic led Miami with 33 points on 13-of-17 shooting, including seven-of-nine from deep along with nine dimes for the cause. Hassan Whiteside scored 19 with 13 rebounds, Rodney McGruder scored 15 with five rebounds and four helpers, and the Heat combined to sink 15-of-28 shots from deep for the close victory. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 35 points with eight rebounds in the loss. Ricky Rubio scored 14 with 13 assists.
We've gone through almost everything else - how to play with a ridiculously bad record, how to play with adversity, how to play through injuries, how to play without making excuses. - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, on how Miami is handling their sudden success.
Milwaukee’s last game was a 137-112 win over the Phoenix Suns. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out six assists, and rejected four shots in the win, backed up by 19 points off the bench from Mirza Teletovic. Jabari Parker scored 18 with nine rebounds. Devin Booker led the Suns with 31 points, 27 in just under eight minutes of the second quarter, while Marquese Chriss scored 27 with six rebounds.
I thought Giannis set the tone for us. That's why he's an All-Star. He understands the moment. He set the tone early and everybody has to follow. - Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd
GameTime: 8PM ET, BMO Harris Bradley Center
Line: Milwaukee is given a 56.1% chance to win over at Number Fire, by an estimated score of 102-100.
All-Time Heat-to-Head: Miami is 63-41 all-time against Milwaukee, a .606 winning percentage which ranks fourth against all opponents.
Miami: 22-30, .423, on pace for a 35-47 season, two games behind the eighth-seeded Detroit Pistons. Fourth in the Southeast Division, 11th in the Eastern Conference, tied for 19th in the NBA (with the Portland TrailBlazers). Last Five: W-W-W-W-W. Playoff Odds: 16.6%.
Milwaukee: 22-28, .440, on pace for a 36-46 season, one game behind the eighth-seeded Detroit Pistons. Fifth in the Central Division, 10th in the Eastern Conference, 18th in the NBA. Last Five: L-L(OT)-L-L-W. Playoff Odds: 32.6%.
PG - Goran Dragic
SG - Rodney McGruder
SF - Dion Waiters (GTD)
PF - Luke Babbitt
C - Hassan Whiteside
PG - Giannis Antetokounmpo
SG - Matthew Dellavedova
SF - Tony Snell
PF - Jabari Parker
C - John Henson
Prognostication: This whole shebang begins and ends with Dion Waiters. I’ve said it before and I’m not sorry about it. Not to take anything away from Whiteside, Dragon, or either Johnson, but Waiters is the piece the Heat need to take it to Milwaukee. We’re mismatched (against this team) without him, and he dropped 33 in the last game against them. My prediction: If Dion plays, the win streak continues. If not, the win streak stops. I’d like to be proved wrong, but only if Dion sits.