The Bucks and Heat play on Sunday afternoon, which wouldn’t be a big deal if we weren’t hammering Miami at home.
Boston is playing well, so is Toronto. But there’s a third team in the Eastern Conference that’s playing just as well and it hosts Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon.
The Miami Heat won its sixth game in row with a victory in Indianapolis a couple days ago. The Heat played without James Johnson, who was suspended for a game following his altercation with Serge Ibaka in Miami’s second-to-last win, which came in Toronto against those same Raptors that are playing so well.
Johnson will be back for this game, rounding out Miami’s nine-man rotation now that Dion Waiters is done for the season. He gave Miami all he could for 40 games and that’s no small contribution because the Heat was decimated with injury. Now, Coach Spo and company are ready to set sail from Waiters Island to some place more fit for a team that would host the 4/5 matchup in the East if the playoffs were to start right now. Johnson should be especially useful in this game because he’s Miami’s best defense against Giannis Antetokounmpo. I’m not sure either Hassan Whiteside, nor Kelly Olynyk are nimble enough to defend his drives to the basket and all of Miami’s perimeter players are too small.
Spolestra has seemingly established a starting five of Whiteside and Olynyk up front with Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson and Derrick Jones Jr. on the perimeter. It wouldn’t surprise me if Spo threw Johnson in for the tip for Olynyk, unless he plans to give Jones Jr., who is strictly a stopper and transition scorer, a chance on Giannis. Even if he doesn’t, he’s been playing guys off his bench as much or more as the majority of the starters. And why not when you have Wayne Ellington making 41 percent of his threes in reserve?
The Bucks, meanwhile, have Antetokounmpo, who is fantastic, Eric Bledsoe, who can do some things, Kris Middleton, who can also do some things, and a bunch of other guys who, for the most part, can’t. There’s not much depth available and Jason Kidd sure isn’t doing much to develop any. Jabari Parker might be back next month, but the plan surely was for him to make an easy return to the team, without any pressure of contributing right away. Instead, the Bucks’ fans are chomping at the bit for his return.
The Heat is giving up three points, which is ridiculous. Miami will win this game and win this game with ease. This is as good of a play as I’ve seen in the NBA all season.
Free Pick: Miami -2
Antetokounmpo • Giannis • Miami Heat • Milwaukee Bucks