The Miami Heat have opened the season with a loss and a win. After dropping the season opener on Wednesday, 113-107 to the Orlando Magic, they topped the New Orleans Pelicans, 111-98 on Christmas Day. After tonight’s contest, they’ll go for round two tomorrow, same bat-time, same bat-channel.
Miami’s last game would see the good guys top the New Orleans Pelicans by 13 points on Christmas Day. Duncan Robinson led the Heat with 23 points, with a Christmas Day record-tying seven three-pointers. Goran Dragić scored 18 with nine dimes and four steals, and Bam Adebayo scored 17 points with four boards.
We knew they would make a run, but we stayed composed - Dragić
The Milwaukee Bucks have started the season with a 122-121 loss to the Boston Celtics, a 138-99 win over the Golden State Warriors, and a 130-110 loss to the New York Knicks. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 27 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and three steals in defeat.
I think we all know we have to be better. — Bucks reserve Bobby Portis, as quoted by Brian Mahoney, Associated Press
The last time these two met was in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, in which the fifth seeded Heat unexpectedly upset the Bucks on their way to an Eastern Conference Title. In the fifth and final game of the series, on September 8, Miami took the victory with a 103-94 final score. Jimmy Butler led six Heat players in double-figures with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. Tyler Herro came off the bench to score 14 with eight boards and six dimes.
It means a lot. But that’s not my goal. That’s not my guys’ goal. That’s not the organization’s goal. We want to win `it.’ We want a championship and I think that’s what we’re focused on. These next eight are going to be much harder than the previous eight. We know that. But we’re ready for them. - Butler, as quoted by Tim Reynolds on NBA.COM
All-Time Head to Head
Not including postseason games, the Heat have a 70-to-45 advantage in head-to-head matchups against the Bucks. Their .609 winning percentage is their second best against an Eastern Conference foe, behind only Miami’s .674 winning percentage against the Washington Wizards.
Miami Heat: 1-1, .500, third in the Southeast Division, seventh in the Eastern Conference, tied for 15th in the NBA. 538 playoff odds: 88 percent
Milwaukee Bucks: 1-2, .333, third in the Central Division, tied for eighth in the Eastern Conference, tied for 18th in the NBA. 538 playoff odds: 97 percent
Around the NBA Last night
Around the NBA Today
There’s nine other games on the NBA’s docket tonight, for those interested in split-screening and/or staying up late:
New York Knicks at Cleveland Cavaliers, 7PM ET
Golden State Warriors at Detroit Pistons, 7PM ET
Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers, 7PM ET
Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers, 7PM ET
Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards, 7PM ET
Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8PM ET
New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns, 10PM ET
Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Clippers, 10PM ET
Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings, 10PM ET
Jimmy Butler is doubtful with a day-to-day ankle injury, and Gabe Vincent is day-to-day with a right knee injury.
Torrey Craig left Sunday’s game with an injury to his face, and is considered day-to-day.
As of this writing, the Bucks are favored by five, with the over/under set at 223.
Gametime: 7:30 PM ET, televised on TNT, FSSUN, FSWIS, and radio broadcast on WAXY/WAQI and WTMJ.
Probable Starting Lineups
C - Meyers Leonard
PF - Bam Adebayo
SF - Maurice Harkless
SG - Jimmy Butler
PG - Tyler Herro
C - Brook Lopez
PF - Giannis Antetokounmpo
SF - Khris Middleton
SG - Donte DiVincenzo
PG - Jrue Holiday
Look out for Jrue Holiday, who has drained 57 percent of his field goal attempts in the early going. Miami fans should continue to pay close attention to promising rookie Precious Achiuwa, who has started his career with a solid 18.8 PER in 33 minutes.
Points: Khris Middleton - 26.7, Giannis Antetokounmpo - 25.7, Bam Adebayo - 21
Rebounds: Giannis Antetokounmpo - 13.0, Bobby Portis - 7.7, Bam Adebayo - 7.5
Assists: Goran Dragić - 8.0, Jimmy Butler - 6.0, Khris Middleton - 6.0
Steals: Jimmy Butler - 4.0, Goran Dragić - 2.5, Avery Bradley - 2.0
Blocks: Brook Lopez - 1.5, Bam Adebayo - 1.0, D.J. Wilson - 1.0
Seasons: With his next appearance, Udonis Haslem will extend his record 17 seasons with the Heat to 18.
Games Played: Bam Adebayo will appear in his 226th game, passing Eddie House into 30th. If Kelly Olynyk appears, he’ll pass Willie Burton into 32nd with his 224th.
Three Pointers: With two more three-pointers, Goran Dragić will be the fifth to hit 500 in his Heat career, joining Tim Hardaway, Eddie Jones, Glen Rice, and Mario Chalmers. Kendrick Nunn needs three to tie Chris Quinn in 39th. Tyler Herro is two away from tying Brian Shaw in 45th.
Free Throws: If Dragić has two free throws, he’ll be the 11th Heat player to make 1000 with the team. Jimmy Butler will tie Tyler Johnson in 25th all time with two free throws, giving him 445.
Rebounds: Bam Adebayo will tie Eddie Jones in 13th all-time with 10 total rebounds, which would give them both 1,738. Olynyk needs two to tie Kevin Willis in 24th with 1,116.
Steals: Bam Adebayo will break a tie James Johnson with one steal, moving him into 29th with 188. Kelly Olynyk will tie Brian Shaw with two, moving him into 32nd with 164. Jimmy Butler will tie Wayne Ellington in 48th with one, giving him 112.
Blocks: Goran Dragić will tie Bruce Bowen in 46th with one, giving him 64. Two for Kelly Olynyk will tie him with WIllie Burton in 30th, with 97. Bam Adebayo will tie Chris Andersen in 14th with four, giving him 205.
Points: Kelly Olynyk will tie Billy Thompson in 29th with seven points scored, for 2,220.
Random Trivia of the Day
Who was the only Heat player to appear in at least one regular season game and never score for the franchise? Hint: He’s tied for last on the franchise leaderboard with one minute played, with DeAndre Liggins. No peeking at Basketball Reference!