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The defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat are going on the road to face the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
The Heat defeated the Bucks in five games in the first round of last year’s Eastern Conference Playoffs. They’ll face Damian Lillard, who acknowledged that he wanted to move from Portland to South Beach, and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Here, we’ll go over the betting odds and share our thoughts on the Monday matchup.
The Bucks are favored over the Heat by five-and-a-half points. Miami has lost back-to-back games (both on the road) and got its only win by one point against the Detroit Pistons. The Bucks, meanwhile, are 1-1 coming off a 17-point loss against the Atlanta Hawks.
|Miami Heat||+5.5 (-110)||+180||Over 223.5 (-110)|
|Milwaukee Bucks||-5.5 (-110)||-225||Under 223.5 (-110)|
Odds from BetMGM Sportsbook. Use our BetMGM promo code for a $1,500 welcome bonus.
All eyes will be on Lillard. His summer of controversy saw him placed at the center of trade rumors involving the Heat, and it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would end up playing for Erik Spoelstra.
As it turned out, the NBA 75 point guard was headed to the Midwest to team up with the 2021 NBA champions. Now, he and the Bucks are title favorites, and he’ll have to take on the team he flirted with for months.
Lillard scored 39 points and 14 in the final four minutes of his Bucks debut but only managed six in his second game. They’ve only played two games, but the Bucks are allowing opponents to shoot 50.9%, the second-best percentage in the league.
Giannis has done a great job deferring to Lillard and helping him feel like he’s in charge. The Greek Freak is also still doing his part, averaging 24.5 points and 11.5 rebounds on 54.3% shooting.
On the other side, the Heat have been slow out the blocks. They’re 23rd in scoring differential (-7.7) and 28th in shooting percentage (41%), plus Jimmy Butler already missed a game for rest.
The Bucks and Heat split a four-game regular-season series at two games apiece last year. Miami won the first two, though they did not meet until January.
The Heat’s biggest problem is going to be finding a way to match the offensive firepower that Milwaukee has. They’re leading scorer, Bam Adebayo, is putting up 22.7 per night, while Tyler Herro is averaging 22 points, and both will need to be at their best on Monday.
There’s also the issue of figuring out how to guard the Bucks. Lillard, Giannis, and Khris Middleton attract so much attention that players such as Brook Lopez and Malik Beasley end up with wide-open three-point shots. That issue is compounded by the Heat’s loss of key rotational pieces such as Max Strus and Gabe Vincent.
Laying the 5.5 points with the Bucks feels like the strongest play for this matchup. They’re far superior offensively and have the potential to be a great defensive team, even if they haven’t shown that in their first two games.
The Heat also haven’t played great defense to start the year and are 20th in field goal percentage allowed (47.6%).
The main concern will be if Lillard has another slow night. The six-point performance is an obvious and early indication that there will be growing pains for this team as they look to blend the contrasting styles of him and Giannis—but the 39 points on opening night are a sign of the potential that exists when everything clicks, and we expect to see the latter more than the former.
The bottom line is that the Bucks should win and have even more motivation to do so because of the playoff loss a few months ago. Watch for Dame to have a big night in front of his former suitors as the Bucks get their first cover of the year.
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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