#3 Milwaukee Bucks vs #6 Miami Heat Series Betting Preview: Giannis, Bucks Should Avoid the Upset This Time Around

Matt Wiesenfeld

Will this year’s Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat series bring another upset? The Heat and Bucks met in the second round last season with Miami eliminating Milwaukee four games to one. That was in the bubble where the Bucks' top seeding in the Eastern Conference was of very little value.

Will Changing Priorities Benefit Bucks This Postseason?

This season Milwaukee has a different-looking team. Bringing in guard Jrue Holiday makes them better in every way, but there are still snickers about whether this team has what it takes to win in the playoffs. The Bucks had a strong regular season with another great statistical season from Giannis.

But unlike the past couple of years, they seemed comfortable with the idea of prioritizing growth over wins in the regular season. They might have been able to grab the top spot in the East, but they tinkered. Milwaukee was once again one of the top offensive teams in the NBA and with Giannis and the way they shoot from deep they can make teams look really bad some nights. Now is the time they have to show they are ready for playoff basketball.

Can the Heat Surprise in the Postseason Again?

Miami was nobody’s favorite to make it to the NBA Finals last season. They did it with strong defense and great leadership and the expectation was that they would have a strong regular season fueled by the growth of young players like Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. Adebayo does keep expanding his game, but Herro and some other depth pieces struggled. Top dog Jimmy Butler missed time and overall the Heat had a disappointing regular season.

Last year I did not think the Heat were a great matchup for Milwaukee, but they proved us all wrong in a classic battle between a “soft” team vs. a gritty one. That might be enough again and we are about to find out.

Eastern Conference First Round Series: #3 Milwaukee Bucks vs #6 Miami Heat

Series Schedule

Game 1: Saturday, May 22 | Miami at Milwaukee, 2 ET, ESPN
Game 2: Monday, May 24 | Miami at Milwaukee, 7:30 ET, TNT
Game 3: Thursday, May 27 | Milwaukee at Miami, 7:30 ET, TNT
Game 4: Saturday, May 29 | Milwaukee at Miami, 1:30 ET, TNT
Game 5: Tuesday, June 1 | Miami at Milwaukee, TBD, TBD (if necessary)
Game 6: Thursday, June 3 | Milwaukee at Miami, TBD, TBD (if necessary)
Game 7: Saturday, June 5 | Miami at Milwaukee, TBD, TBD (if necessary)

Series Odds

Bucks vs Heat odds are via FanDuel Sportsbook as of Friday, May 21 at 2:00 pm ET.

Odds to Win Series

  • Miami +240
  • Milwaukee -310

Series Spread

  • Miami +1.5 games (+112)
  • Milwaukee -1.5 games (-138)

Series Correct Score Odds

  • 4-0 Miami +3000
  • 4-1 Miami +1600
  • 4-2 Miami +750
  • 4-3 Miami +750
  • 4-0 Milwaukee +600
  • 4-1 Milwaukee +270
  • 4-2 Milwaukee +380
  • 4-3 Milwaukee +400

I am not expecting another series upset by Miami. The games could be really competitive but the Bucks would be a shock to lose in the first round to me. When Miami won last year it was a 4-1 series victory.

Looking at these numbers, a bet I really like is Milwaukee to win by 1.5 games. You are not paying too much of a premium there, and there could be hedge opportunities to work with too. Correlated with that bet, I also like the value of the Bucks to win the series either 4-1 or 4-2. Those bets look like a profitable stack and might be the better wager. Miami has too much heart and experience to fade out of the playoffs without even taking a game. It might be the first one of the series too, so don’t rip up your tickets too quickly if that happens.

Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat Series Statistical Summary

Bucks vs Heat Betting Statistics

Miami Heat: 40-32 SU, 34-36-2 ATS, 38-34 O/U
Milwaukee Bucks: 46-26 SU, 32-40 ATS, 41-30-1 O/U

Milwaukee Bucks Season Statistics

120 ppg – 1st
49% FG – 3rd
39% 3PT FG% – 5th
114 ppg allowed – 22nd

Miami Heat Season Statistics

108 ppg – 25th
47% FG% – 15th
36% 3PT FG% – 19th
108 ppg allowed – 5th

Head-to-Head Results

May 15: Milwaukee 122 – Miami 108
December 30: Miami 119 – Milwaukee 108
December 29: Milwaukee 144 – Miami 97

Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat Series Betting Breakdown

Backing the Bucks: Three Key Factors

Tempo/Scoring – The Bucks are at their best when they play fast. The Heat are not. All you have to do is look at the numbers from their season series. When Milwaukee hits that 120 points mark they are very tough to beat this year. There are few teams in the league who can keep up.

The Giannis Effect – The Greek Freak is one of the best players in the game. He has his limitations though, and the series against Miami last year saw him average the fewest points per game since his very first playoffs series as a 20-year-old. He only scored 21 ppg as the Bucks struggled. Milwaukee has to find ways to make sure he remains the center of the attack even with all of the attention he commands.

Coaching – There is no team in the East that has as much riding on these playoffs as Milwaukee. With Brooklyn and Philadelphia seeming to have passed them they have to show up and a lot of that is on the coach. Mike Budenholzer cannot afford an early exit, but at the same time I am not sure he is really one of the better coaches in the league. That might be the one area where the Bucks are not as good as the Heat.

Backing the Heat: Three Key Factors

Secondary Scoring – The Heat have a pretty defined pecking order at the top of their lineup with Butler and Adebayo. The hope was that Victor Oladipo would join that group, but the move was a complete bust with Oladipo done for the season with a quad injury. The guys they need to score are Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic, but both have struggled throughout the season. Too many games have gotten blown open by the second unit not being able to keep up.

Defense – Miami knows what it is, and that means they have to stay committed on defense. In the series win over Milwaukee last year they held the Bucks to the following point totals: 104, 114, 100, 118 and 94. That 118 was in an overtime game too. If they can scheme effectively and keep the Bucks from running they give themselves a chance. They might be missing forward Jae Crowder, now of the Suns, more in this series than they did during the regular season. Trevor Ariza is going to have to be good for them.

“It” Factor – Miami used it all the way to last season’s NBA Finals, where they even gave the Lakers some problems. Can they be “that” team a second year in a row. A lot of that comes down to Erik Spoelstra, who is underrated as coach. He has titles he won with LeBron but also has only lost a first round series once since. He gets them committed to defense and is a tough coach to outmaneuver late in games.

Series Prediction: Bucks in Five

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