Wednesday NBA Playoffs Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Heat vs. Bucks Game 2 (Sept. 2)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Eric Bledsoe.
- The Milwaukee Bucks look to bounce back in Game 2 after dropping the series opener to the Miami Heat.
- Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe will play in this game after missing Game 1.
- Reed Wallach previews the matchup and explains why his bet is contingent on tonight's injury news.
Editors note: Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe is active for Wednesday’s Game 2. For more info, check out our Labs NBA Insider tool.
Heat vs. Bucks Game 2 Betting Odds
|Heat Odds||+5.5 [BET NOW]|
|Bucks Odds||-5.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+190/-230 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||221.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||6:30 p.m. ET|
The Miami Heat set the tone for their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Milwaukee Bucks with an impressive 115-104 win on Monday night. The Heat covered the 5.5-point closing line and now sit +148 to win the series at DraftKings as of this writing.
How will the top-seeded Bucks respond in Game 2 as 4.5-point favorites?
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After an uncharacteristically poor defensive first quarter — allowing the Bucks to score 40 points and build a double-digit lead — the Heat slowed the pace down and took over in a half-court battle.
This is how the Heat are going to pull the upset over the Bucks: Make this a tit-for-tat battle that allows Miami’s ball-handlers to create for the Heat’s slew of 3-point threats. The Heat did just that in Game 1. But moreover, Miami also directly attacked Milwaukee’s strength: protecting the paint.
Miami scored 42 points in the paint, which far exceeded what the league-best Bucks allowed during the regular season. The Heat also did a great job on the offensive glass, which enabled Miami to generated nine more field goal attempts than Milwaukee.
Looking forward, the Heat need to continue to get into the paint. The Bucks defense is predicated on locking down the rim, cleaning the defensive glass, and starting the break. None of that really happened in Game 1, in part because Milwaukee was sloppy on the boards. The Bucks grabbed 66% of available defensive rebounds, down almost 11% from the regular season.
The Heat were the more physical team for the majority of the game and played on their terms. Miami got to the line at will — shooting 25-of-27 — and pressured Giannis relentlessly to force him out around the perimeter. Miami has size in Bam Adebayo, strength in Jae Crowder, and maybe even some finesse in Andre Iguodala to hold off the reigning MVP.
This stable of Giannis-stoppers isn’t a one-off: This is the path to victory for the Heat.
Eric Bledsoe was a late scratch in Game 1, and that really tipped the scales in favor of Miami. Goran Dragic was fantastic for the Heat, gashing the Bucks for 27 points, six rebounds and five assists on 60% shooting. The Bucks were four points better with Bledsoe on the floor this season, and the defense took a step back when he was on the bench. George Hill tried but ultimately could not stop the resurgent Dragic. Milwaukee is going to need Bledsoe back as soon as Wednesday in order to slow down Miami’s guards.
The Bucks defense was not able to stop the initial penetration, and it was a domino effect that led to Miami getting to the line with ease and getting open looks from 3.
On the offensive end, Khris Middleton had his first standout game of the postseason, but Antetokounmpo struggled with Miami’s array of defenders. Like last postseason, if Giannis is unable to get to the rim and kick out of traffic — or just dunk it — then Milwaukee’s offense is going to become stagnant.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer is going to have to make some adjustments from Game 1 — something he has struggled with over his career. Kyle Korver played 16 minutes Monday and performed well, all things considered, but the Bucks could probably use Donte DiVincenzo a bit more for some ball-handling and athleticism on defense; he only played 13 minutes in Game 1. Similarly, Milwaukee could probably afford to siphon off some of Pat Connaughton’s 25 minutes from Game 1 and turn those minutes over to Giannis. Milwaukee’s superstar played 36 minutes in a playoff game.
Unequivocally, Game 1 was a poor showing for the Bucks, but the worst part was Milwaukee’s performance at the free throw line. The Bucks shot 14-of-26 from the charity stripe in a game they lost by 11. Giannis was 4-of-12 by himself, which is not great, Bob. The Bucks can’t afford to have that if they plan to hang in this series.
The Bucks are going to need Bledsoe back to slow down Miami’s penetration, so I am going to wait to bet the Bucks, but I do lean towards Milwaukee. Bledsoe is listed as questionable as of this writing, but make sure to check the FantasyLabs Player Tracker for updates.
If Bledsoe is out, it is probably a stay away from me. If he is back in the starting lineup, I like Milwaukee up to -5. This seems like a bounce-back spot after a letdown opener.
I am wary of Budenholzer making adjustments game-by-game and finding ways to free up Giannis in a slower-paced game. Milwaukee needs to rebound better to get its offense going. If the trend continues of a drawn-out, half-court-style game, then Milwaukee is in trouble. Miami has the ball-handlers to gouge opposing defenses, and Milwaukee simply doesn’t have an answer.
This series seems destined to go to Game 6 or 7, but if Bledsoe can’t get his hamstring right, Milwaukee is going to struggle to slow down the Heat.
The Pick: Milwaukee -5