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NBA Playoffs Game 3 Preview: Can Heat turn series against Bucks around in Miami?

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Miami faces a must-win situation in a pivotal Game 3 at home.

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports


The Miami Heat return home for Game 3 of their first round series against the Milwaukee Bucks with tip-off scheduled for 7:30pm.

After being blown out in Game 2, a game that was already lost by the first quarter when the Bucks put up 46 points (and no, that wasn’t their point total at halftime), the Heat have to hope that a change in scenery and a new attitude will help turn things around.

For as much as the Bucks dominated Game 2, let’s not forget that even though Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler struggled mightily in Game 1 as well, the team still had multiple chances to win and they played the Bucks more or less evenly in Game 2 (even if the game was long ago decided and bench players got plenty of minutes in the final quarter) after that disastrous first quarter.

That’s about it as far as positives go, with the Heat’s top players looking lost while their shooters went cold from long distance in Game 2 after a good showing in Game 1 that helped Miami keep pace with Milwaukee.

“CanadianHeatFan”, a regular Hot Hot Hoops reader and commentator, had a pretty interesting observation about Bam in this series:

Bam isn’t unaggressive or complacent or mad or scared or tired.

Bam is confused.

He doesn’t know what to do next. All Bam has done for two years is run the DHO/screenroll offense, which is predicated on having the opposing Middle pulled into all those ball actions. The Bucks just pulled the chair out from under him, and the whole theory of the Heat offense, with an innovative way to defend it. Sorry guys, I give real props to downtrodden Budenholzer here in recognizing Bam’s tendencies. But now it’s up to Spoelstra, not Bam, to counter somehow. After the final regular season game [versus the Bucks], I was asking how Spo was going to handle Lopez sagging 10 feet because it seemed to work. I haven’t seen any response at all.

I have to largely agree here, because a lot of this rests on coach Erik Spoelstra and the coaching staff and it’s their job to put the team in the best position to win. Does it mean making a panic move and starting Dewayne Dedmon — the lone Heat player not named Goran Dragic who has played well in this series — instead of Trevor Ariza, or at least sub him in as quickly as possible if the game starts to tilt in the Bucks’ favor? For that matter should Dragic start as well?

Regardless of whatever the coach’s plan of action for tonight is, Adebayo and Butler need to wake up and put this team on their shoulders and will the team to victory. An exhausted Butler carried this team to just two wins short of a title not even a year ago, so he is more than capable while Bam is too talented and too dynamic of a player to be so tentative when he’s wide open. For that matter, the entire starting five have plenty of room for improvement and it starts tonight or else they will be staring at a 0-3 deficit.

No new injuries are being reported for either side as of now.

Required reading while waiting for tip-off:

Key takeaways and observations from Heat vs Bucks Game 2

What’s up with Jimmy Butler?

Heat vs Bucks series preview: Six potential matchups to watch out for

After Butler and Adebayo, who could be Miami’s four most important players for a deep playoff run?

ODDS: FiveThirtyEight is giving the Heat a 47% chance to win Game 3.




  • Victor Oladipo: out (knee)
  • Omer Yurtseven: day-to-day


  • Thanasis Antetokounmpo: out (right patella tendon)


Projected Starters

Clippers Position Heat
Clippers Position Heat
Reggie Jackson PG Kyle Lowry
Paul George SG Tyler Herro
Kawhi Leonard SF Jimmy Butler
Marcus Morris Sr. PF Caleb Martin
Ivica Zubac C Bam Adebayo


TV: Bally Sports Sun, TNT
RADIO: 620 AM/103.3 FM WTMJ, The HEAT Radio Network (Mike Inglis, Ron Rothstein, Jonathan Zaslow, Tommy Tighe)
SPANISH RADIO: WRTO Mix 98.3 FM (José Pañeda, Joe Pujala). HEAT Spanish Radio Network includes: WEFL ESPN Deportes 760 AM

Come back to Hot Hot Hoops at game time to join our GameThread and chat about the game live with other Heat fans!