The first round of the NBA Playoffs continue today and we will see the Miami Heat take on the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. The game is scheduled for a 3:30 pm (Eastern) start time and will be televised on ABC. Currently the Odds for the game have Miami favored by 8.5 points while the total sits at 195.
Analysis: The Miami Heat have let the Milwaukee Bucks hang around until late in the third quarter in each of the last two games before putting the pedal down and sprinting to the finish. LeBron James has not approached the numbers he put up in Game 1 in either of the last two contests but has picked his spots to impact each game. He stayed on the floor with the second unit in the beginning of the fourth quarter of Game 2 to spark the decisive run and knocked down the 3-pointer late in the third quarter that got things rolling in Game 3. Miami has looked vulnerable at certain points in each of the first three games before snapping back into focus and running away. James turned in a dominant performance in Game 1 but has let the supporting cast handle most of the heavy lifting in the subsequent two games. That cast might have to expand and put in even more work in Game 4 with Dwyane Wade ailing. The All-Star guard missed time at the end of the regular season with a bruised knee and was limited in practice by the injury on Saturday. If he can’t go Sunday, the Heat have plenty of other options at the starting off-guard spot. Ray Allen has averaged 16.7 points off the bench in the first three games of the series and Mike Miller was strong in place of Wade at the end of the season.
The Bucks led for most of the first half on Thursday, but in the third quarter the Heat took over the game while the Bucks never recovered. They shot a respectable 46% from the floor with 20 fast-break points but Milwaukee made just 7-of-26 threes. The Bucks have had some success with Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders on the inside but guards Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings have not been able to find a rhythm offensively. Jennings said that Milwaukee would win the series in six games before the start of the playoffs. That optimistic prediction is now an impossibility, and restricted free-agent-to-be Jennings could be down to his final game in a Bucks' uniform. Jennings scored 26 points in Game 1 but has gone 8-for-30 from the floor in the last two contests, including 1-for-14 from 3-point range. Ilyasova and Sanders have been the most effective offensive performers in the last two games but have not been able to take control of the game in the fourth quarter while Miami has been pulling away. Ilyasova and Sanders averaged a combined 16.6 rebounds in the regular season but have not been able to help the Bucks gain an advantage on the glass in the series.
Pick: I have to feel that the Heat just wanna end this series today and do it in a big way, which would give this team some rest before the next round. Miami has started slow in the last 2 games, but all the energy they didn't exert in the first half they used to crush the bucks in the 2nd half.I expect them to have this one wrapped up by te end of the 3rd quarter, which should get Lebron and the rest of the starters out for most of the 4th quarter, so they can get even more rest and avoid a costly injury. Down 3-0 Milwaukee will most likely throw in the towel once Miami gets the big lead. Look for the Heat to win by 17+ here.
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