Giannis drives

Will Bam Adebayo be able to slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo? Photo by @BleacherReport (Twitter)

  • The Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks begin their Eastern Conference semifinals series on Monday
  • Miami swept the Pacers in the first round, while the Bucks made light work of the Magic despite losing Game 1
  • Get the latest odds, betting analysis and a pick below

This is where the Eastern Conference gets interesting. The first round of the playoffs was dull, but with only four teams left, the East is suddenly fascinating. Starting on Monday, the Miami Heat will be trying to upset the odds and eliminate the all-conquering Milwaukee Bucks.

Miami won two of their three regular season meetings, but they lost by 14 points when the two teams met in the seeding games.

The latest Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks odds favor the East’s top seed by five points.

Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks Game 1 Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Odds at FanDuel Total
Miami Heat +5 (-110) +180 O 223 (-110)
Milwaukee Bucks -5 (-110) -215 U 223 (-110)

Odds taken August 31st

Giannis Meets Bam

No defender has caused Giannis Antetokounmpo as many problems as Miami’s Bam Adebayo. Adebayo is one of the few players with the size, strength and quickness to live with Antetokounmpo’s superhuman drives to the basket. He can go body-to-body with him in the paint, he can meet him on the perimeter and he can contest his shots. Adebayo has proved resilient to Antetokounmpo’s unique brand of bully ball.

Of players who have regularly matched up with the Greek Freak, Adebayo holds him to the lowest true scoring percentage by a distance, well ahead of Joel Embiid and Tristan Thompson. Slowing down the soon-to-be two-time MVP is obviously key to beating the Bucks, but it’s even more important at the moment with Khris Middleton struggling.

Middleton was an All-Star this year, and he’s a typically an efficient scorer. He’s had troubles in the bubble, though, increasing the burden on Antetokounmpo. Middleton went 26-for-72 from the field in the first round.

Heat Load Up on Shooters

Milwaukee had an historic defense in 2020, leading the league by a wide margin in defensive rating. Their formula is different from others. They allow opponents’ worst three-point shooters to shoot threes and commit to protecting the rim. The Bucks give up more three-point attempts than any other team in the NBA.

Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez rate among the top players in the league at protecting the cup, but allowing three-point shots is a risky business, and particularly so against this Miami club.

In theory, allowing weaker shooters to shoot should work. Miami can load up with shooters if they choose to, however, and this messes with Milwaukee’s defense. Jimmy Butler, for instance, has been a woeful three-point shooter this season, but after hitting several key shots from deep against Indiana, will the Bucks let him shoot?

Erik Spoelstra will use a lot of three shooters plus Butler and Adebayo lineups. Adebayo is a tricky player to guard – Miami’s offense runs through him, and he can pull one of Milwaukee’s bigs away from the basket.

Duncan Robinson is Splash Brothers-level of good. Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro will all hit shots.

Miami to Pull Game 1 Upset

The Heat are well-equipped to trouble these Bucks. They move the ball well (third in the league in potential assists during the regular season), they have the best Giannis defender in the league and their offense could make Milwaukee alter their defensive gameplan. With Adebayo playing at the five, Mike Budenholzer might be forced to run Antetokounmpo at center and go smaller, compromising their rim protection.

Miami to cover the spread looks the best bet. Their sweep of the Pacers better prepared them for this series than the Bucks’ wins over Orlando. This should to six or seven.

Pick: Miami Heat +5 (-110)

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