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NBA Playoffs Game 4 Preview: Heat down 0-3, host Bucks in elimination game

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Miami has one last chance today to prove they belong in the playoffs.

Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat - Game Three Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

GAME STORY

The Miami Heat face possible elimination today down 0-3 in their first round series against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 at 1:30pm inside the AmericanAirlines Arena.

Although the core of the bubble team is largely intact, this current Heat team unfortunately bears little resemblance to the defending Eastern Conference Champions. Throughout the series it’s been difficult to ascertain whether it’s the Bucks’ defense that is wrecking so much havoc on Miami’s shooters or they have simply gone cold as they have missed plenty of good looks at the basket. At this point it’s clear that both are not mutually exclusive as there have been too many wasted possessions when the Heat have had chances to build momentum, but it’s no denying that coach Mike Budenholzer’s game plan has worked to perfection and coach Erik Spoelstra hasn’t come up with a good strategy to address any of it so far.

What to do next? We’ll find out today in Miami’s last opportunity to prove they belong in the NBA Playoffs, and they have only themselves to blame for being locked into a nightmare first round matchup against the Bucks, who were clearly eager to avenge their loss to the Heat in the playoffs last year. Though they played well in the last few weeks of the regular season once they were mostly healthy, had they beat the Atlanta Hawks without Trae Young, or taken care of the Chicago Bulls at home, then they possibly could have been playing against the inexperienced Hawks or New York Knicks in the first round. Instead they have a highly motivated Giannis Antetokounmpo to deal with, a dynamic point guard in Jrue Holiday that has added a new dimension to their offense, and a hot-shooting Khris Middleton who seems to make a basket in response to just about every time the Heat manage to score — which isn’t often.

Perhaps a healthy Victor Oladipo could have lifted the Heat to make it a more competitive series, but the reality is also that Jimmy Butler has not made the same impact he made in the bubble, Bam Adebayo looks completely lost in a highly concerning performance this series, and players such as Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro are not contributing in any significant manner — and in fact are a detriment to the Heat overall if they are not shooting well. Even the desperation move by Spoelstra to plug in Goran Dragic, who had been the Heat’s best player through the first two games of the series, into the starting lineup for Game 3 did nothing and in fact deflated the aging point guard’s game performance down to the level of the rest of the team.

Game 1 is already a distant memory, when the Heat spoiled several chances to win it in regulation but played them evenly for most of the night in what appeared to be a long series. Instead, Milwaukee has come out of the gate swinging while the Heat’s offense (and defense) has been nonexistent in the first quarter the last two games, outscoring Miami by a combined 72-34. Both games were essentially lost in the first half, with the Heat subsequently not having the talent, energy level, or an effective game strategy to keep up with the Bucks and cut into their big leads.

Miami only has Victor Oladipo listed on their injury report. Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo (foot) is out for the postseason after injuring himself in Game 3.

ODDS: FiveThirtyEight is giving the Heat a 47% chance to win Game 4.

HEAT VS BUCKS: SATURDAY, MAY 29 AT 1:30 PM

INJURIES

MIAMI:

  • Victor Oladipo: out (knee)
  • Omer Yurtseven: inactive

MILWAUKEE:

  • Thanasis Antetokounmpo: out (right patella tendon)
  • Donte DiVincenzo: out (foot)

LINEUPS

Projected Starters

Bucks Position Heat
Bucks Position Heat
Jrue Holiday PG Goran Dragic
Bryn Forbes SG Duncan Robinson
Khris Middleton SF Jimmy Butler
Giannis Antetokounmpo PF Trevor Ariza
Brook Lopez C Bam Adebayo

BROADCAST INFO

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!