The Miami Heat have been relentless during their semifinals series with the Milwaukee Bucks, and have a chance to send the Deer home in Sunday's Game 4.
Led by tenacious All-Star Jimmy Butler, the Heat won the first and third games of this matchup by double digits, and Butler hit two free throws with no time on the clock in between those blowouts. Can Milwaukee avoid an embarrassing, winless second round?
Read on for the rest of this abe Insights betting preview, which features a breakdown of the essential betting lines, the best odds available, courtesy of our odds comparison engine, key stats and more for this potential close-out clash.
Date: Sunday, September 6
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Bucks 47%; Heat 55%
Spread: MIA -2
Moneyline: MIL +115; MIA -120
Giannis Antetokounmpo has had a rough enough go of it as it is versus the Heat. Now the Greek Freak is dealing with a sprained ankle ahead of Game 4, and is questionable this afternoon, per ESPN.com.
Heat forward Kelly Olynyk contributed 11 key points in Game 2's 116-114 win, but sat out thereafter with a knee injury. He's also questionable for Saturday's tip-off, which would cost Miami a little frontcourt depth and a solid stretch 4 off the bench.
105.51 vs. 98.67: This series has seen Miami assert its will in controlling the tempo. Milwaukee led the NBA in PACE rating (the first number), but the Heat have slowed the Bucks down to their speed. The second figure is this series' PACE rating, which would've been the third-lowest during the regular season.
21.3 vs. 14.0: These digits reflect the Heat's edge in points off turnovers in the past three contests. Miami actually ranked 25th in 2019-20 in opponents' points off giveaways, so they're tightening up in transition and forcing the Deer to execute in the half court.
60.9 vs. 55.6: It's fairly simple to see how the Heat are on the brink of a sweep, as they've logged a far better true shooting percentage. From beyond the arc, Miami has shot better (38.2% to 35.1%) on almost nine more attempts per game.
In short, Miami is a nightmarish matchup for Milwaukee. The Heat's blend of athleticism, quickness and outside shooting, combined with enough size to combat the Bucks' edge there, has made this a lopsided duel. Game 3 was particularly demoralizing for the East favorites, as Miami outscored the Deer 40-13 in the fourth quarter.
It's a tough spot for Giannis, too. That ankle injury he attempted to play through the last time out resulted in a woeful performance, as he missed 14 of 21 shots and all seven of his 3-pointers. The back-to-back league MVP has shooting splits of 45.1/15.4/54.1. That latter figure from the charity stripe on 12.3 average attempts is particularly disconcerting.
Butler's proficiency at the foul line alone (82.3% on over 13 free throws per game) and superior ability to convert those freebies as compared to Giannis has accounted for an 11-6.7 average score on its own.
Not helping matters for any member of the Bucks squad or organization is Giannis being due to hit free agency after next season. There's enough pressure on him to win his first championship as it is, and provided Milwaukee doesn't off four straight wins, this won't be the year.
Although loyalty is an admirable quality and stability is ideal during an NBA career, Butler is validating his nomadic existence as Miami's new face of the franchise. This marks Butler's fourth different team in as many seasons, yet the Heat are indubitably the best fit for his personality and brand of basketball. Now they're five wins away from the Finals.
The uncertainty surrounding Giannis' health and his underwhelming performance against Miami thus far don't inspire a lot of confidence the Bucks can losing yet again. Few would've expected the underdog Heat to be favored in Game 4, especially with no home-court advantage, but here we are.
Coach Erik Spoelstra will have Miami ready to crank up the heat on D once again, which should lead to a low-scoring contest, with more bets going on the Under, and the betting public skewing their wagers toward a double-down situation with the Heat's spread and moneyline.
Note: Odds current as of 10:05 a.m. ET on Sunday, September 6.
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