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The Miami Heat have a chance to become the first play-in eight-seed to ever eliminate the number-one seed, the Milwaukee Bucks, when they meet in Milwaukee Wednesday.
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Odds taken from Caesars Sportsbook.
In the WSN game preview for Game Four, we made the point that both of the Heat’s wins in the series were anomalies—Giannis Antetokounmpo was injured early in one, and the team set a franchise record for most threes made in a half of a postseason game in the other. Imagine our shock when Jimmy Butler set another franchise playoff record and the fourth-highest all-time playoff scoring mark with 56 points in a 119-114 win in Game Four!
Butler was sensational in the first and fourth quarters, and the Heat once again shot over 40% from the three-point line. That’s much better than the 34.9% (23rd in the NBA) standard they set over the course of the season and rather shocking, given the injuries to Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo.
Giannis posted a triple-double in his first game back from injury but did not have the impact he normally has. The Bucks’ second unit was also unable to impose itself against a depleted Miami rotation that strangely seems to have unlocked a new dimension on offense. In contrast, three of Miami’s second-stringers had the highest box score plus/minus in the entire game.
Butler was utterly brilliant on his way to 56 points (19-28 FG, 3-8 3PT) and nine rebounds. He dropped 22 points in the first quarter and closed out the show with 20 points in the final 5:16. His unreal late-game scoring streak started with his team down 10 points and ended with them winning by five.
Nobody else on the Heat scored more than Bam Adebayo’s 15 points. Duncan Robinson, Kyle Lowry, and Caleb Martin were great off the bench yet again and have created problems for Milwaukee’s defense because of their spacing and selflessness, and they can expect heavy minutes moving forward.
Giannis led the Bucks with 26 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds, although his six turnovers were not a pleasant sight. Brook Lopez topped the scoring column with 36 points and pitched in another 11 rebounds and three blocks but weirdly had the second-worst plus/minus of all Bucks rotation players. Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton scored 14 points apiece.
The Bucks have had a hard time adjusting to the defense required to play against a Miami offense that suddenly has lots of space. Kevin Love demands a defender be in the vicinity, Robinson needs to be shadowed as he runs off curls and pin-downs, and Lowry and Martin need to face on-ball pressure or else they will score in a variety of ways.
All of that comes with obvious demand needing to be paid attention to Butler and, to a lesser extent, Adebayo. The Bucks had the fourth-best defensive rating in the NBA but have given up 123 points per game (9.2 above their season average) and let a poor shooting team nail at least 40% of their threes in every game of the series.
Milwaukee tied the Boston Celtics for the best home record (32-9) in the Eastern Conference and has a very real chance of making a comeback if the sportsbooks are to be believed. Caesars still has the Bucks at +115 to win the series, which translates to an implied probability of 46.51%. That is an extremely favorable outlook since only 13 of 271 teams (4.8%) to have been down 3-1 in the NBA playoffs have ever won their series.
The Bucks will win Game Five just by showing up if the oddsmakers are to be believed with the 11-point spread. Realistically speaking, they have to tighten the screws on the perimeter defensively and use Giannis to collapse the paint and find open teammates. He did a great job of just that in Game Three but has to pair it with a stout defensive outing to get the win.
Feed. Jimmy. Buckets. Butler has a long history of elevating his game in the postseason, and he just pulled arguably his best-ever trick out of the hat. If his teammates around him keep making their shots and force the Bucks to honor them on the outside, Miami will have a very real chance of closing the series out in five games.
Bucks -6 bettors were riding high in Game Four with less than half of the quarter left and their team up double-digits—that’s when Miami put the bat signal out and Butler answered the call.
Milwaukee is a proud team with tons of postseason experience in recent years. They are not going to roll over and (metaphorically) die, and they have a great chance to win Game Five outright. That being said, it’d be disrespectful not to show the Heat and Butler a certain level of respect, and pick them on the spread. So, the game pick is Heat +11.
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Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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