Which team will be on the court when the Heat tip-off against the NBA’s only team to win 50 games thus far this season - the Milwaukee Bucks?
Giannis Antetokounmpo issued a challenge to the Heat before their Friday face-off on Biscayne Boulevard.
“This definitely is a team that we might face in the first round of the playoffs, so we’ve definitely got to be locked in and go out there and play the best basketball we can play and send a message.”
Will the Miami Heat make their their own statement to the Bucks?
While Giannis Antetokounmpo rightfully grabs the headlines, the Bucks excel in more than one part of the game:
- Best defensive rating at 105
- Most rebounds on defense with 2723
- Second in blocked shots with 406
- Least points allowed on turnovers at 993
- Least fastbreak points allowed with 702
- Second most points scored with 7999
- Second most field goals made with 2946
- Second most 3-point baskets made with 907
The Bucks follow a simple, analytically-based formula for success built around the unique talents of Antetokounmpo, much like the Golden State Warriors built their team on the scoring prowess of Stephen Curry.
Due to Antetokounmpo’s poor 3-FG% of 24%, the Bucks surround him with 3-point threats such as Malcolm Brogdon (43%), Tony Snell (40%), Khris Middleton (38%), and et al to space the floor.
To their credit Milwaukee doesn’t deviate from its game plan on offense either because they have
- The second-most FGAs in the restricted area with 2360
- The second-most FGAs above the break with 2047
- The least number of attempts in the paint (non-RA) with 699
- The second least mid-range FGAs at 535
While the Bucks have flashy dunks, only the Houston Rockets have taken more shots from above the break this season.
Besides the smarts to stay on course with their shot selection, the Bucks have a fairly hefty roster to pound the boards:
- Brook Lopez 7’0” 270 lbs
- Giannis Antetokounmpo 6’11” 242 lbs
- Nikola Mirotic 6’10” 250 lbs
- Ersan Ilyasova 6’10” 235 lbs
- Khris Middleton 6’8” 222 lbs
- Tony Snell 6’7” 215 lbs
Knowing the Bucks aversion to taking inefficient 2-pointers, keeping Milwaukee out of their preferred spots in the restricted area and above the break of the 3-point line will be a handful for the Heat players.
Since their most likely opponents are two of most northernmost cities in the Eastern Conference, a classic battle of the South versus the North looms on the horizon next month.
Stats courtesy of NBA stats.