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The 1-seed Milwaukee Bucks (1-1) vs. 8-seed Miami Heat (1-1) Eastern Conference 1st-Round series heads to South Beach Saturday for Game 3. Miami did what it needed to by stealing Game 1, 130-117.
Granted, the Heat were helped out immensely by the injury to Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 1. Milwaukee bounced back with a double-digit beat down of Miami 138-122 in Game 2 sans Giannis.
Who knows if Giannis will play Game 3. Giannis is “questionable” in the NBA’s 10:30 a.m. ET injury report on Saturday. I’m won’t guess Antetokounmpo’s availability because I’ve failed at that all season in the NBA.
The Game 3 spread (Bucks -5) suggests Giannis will suit up. Regardless of Giannis’s status, I’m feeling a “Jimmy Butler Game”. Playoff Jimmy has been ballin’ and Milwaukee doesn’t have anyone who can defend him.
Bucks at Heat, Game 3 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 22nd.
- Venue: Kaseya Center in Miami.
Per VSIN, roughly 80% of the action at DraftKings is on the Bucks at the time of writing. Other sportsbooks are reporting larger pro-Milwaukee betting splits but essentially everyone is backing the Bucks.
It makes sense. Miami has the 2nd-worst against-the-spread record in the NBA. Plus the Bucks trampled the Heat in Game 2 and if Giannis is available this line could shoot up to Milwaukee -7.
However, don’t sleep on Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s ability to steal a playoff game. Miami’s defense has been whack this season but Spoelstra is one of the best defensive minds in the NBA.
Everyone left Miami for dead when it lost to the Hawks in the 1st postseason play-in game. Then Heat Culture rallied by beating the Bulls in the 2nd play-in game before surprising the Bucks in Game 1.
Furthermore, Heat All-Defensive big Bam Adebayo at least has the athleticism to frustrate Giannis and Butler will win his matchup vs. Bucks wing Khris Middleton.
Butler is averaging a series-best 30.0 points per game (PPG) on 63.9% true shooting (.590/.400/.667) and has a +10 net rating. In their 15 career head-to-head meeting, Butler is out-scoring Middleton 22.6-21.1 PPG and out-shooting him from the field and 3.
Milwaukee will have 3-point regression on the road.
The Bucks got 11 3-pointers from backup SG Pat Connaughton and SF Joel Ingles in Game 2 and I’m literally betting that doesn’t happen again. The Heat were 4th in defensive wide-open 3-point-attempt rate this season.
Miami’s 3-point shooting has been a disappointment this season and the Heat’s offense is missing a key piece in SG Tyler Herro. But, you’re telling me Miami’s role players cannot knock down some threes in their home gym?
Heat SG Duncan Robinson is a 5-for-7 from behind the arc in this series and is one of the best marksmen in the NBA. Miami stretch-4 Kevin Love is due for a vintage game and can bang 3s.
Plus Robinson, K-Love, PG Gabe Vincent and SG Max Strus will all get quality looks if Butler is doing his thing. The Bucks are known to leave shooters open and load up on opposing stars as a defensive strategy.
Miami is shooting 50.8% from 3-point land in this series and I’m confident Miami can win two of the other “four factors” in Game 3: Turnover rate (TOV%) and free-throw attempt rate (FTr).
The Heat were 2nd in defensive TOV% during the regular season and the Bucks were dead-last. Miami was 8th in offensive FTr and Milwaukee was 28th.
BET: Heat +5 (-110) & ‘sprinkle’ on their +170 moneyline at DraftKings
Check out Geoff’s basketball betting show on the OutKick Bets Podcast feed for the audio versions of the handicaps.
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.
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