The Milwaukee Bucks avoided a sweep with a gutsy overtime win, but they have their work cut out to extend their second-round series against the Miami Heat in Tuesday's Game 5.
It's possible superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo won't be able to play, or will at least be severely limited, due to a sprained ankle. Can Milwaukee manage without him, or will Miami move on to the Conference Finals?
Proceed further for of abe Insights' betting preview, highlighted by analysis of the key betting lines, the best odds across the major sportsbooks, advanced stats and more information pertinent to this matchup.
Date: Tuesday, September 8
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Heat 63%; Bucks 38%
Spread: MIA -4
Moneyline: MIA -167; MIL +165
Giannis played only 10 minutes in Game 4, but was dominant in that limited time, scoring 19 points. The Greek Freak at least needs to be an effective decoy if he gives it a go. Otherwise, he's better off resting and hoping his teammates can squeak out another victory.
Although the Heat don't have any major injuries, they've limited minutes for rookie Kendrick Nunn, whose positive COVID-19 test caused him to miss the start of bubble play. Nunn has struggled to carve out a role since his return, despite averaging 15.3 points per contest in 67 regular-season starts.
60.2 vs. 56.3: Offense has been an art form for Miami in most of this series, as its true shooting percentage is up over 60. Such proficiency has been harder to come by for Milwaukee, who shot 45.1% in Game 4 when excluding Giannis' 8-for-10 shooting effort.
84.1 vs. 73.1: In addition to boasting better shooting from the field overall, the Heat have a big edge at the free throw line. These are the teams' conversion rates over the last four games. Giannis has missed 19 of 41 attempts from the charity stripe on his own.
68.2 vs. 55.1: The Deer are used to running, but Miami has throttled down the pace and forced them to play a different style. It's no surprise the Heat's assist percentage is higher, as they're more accustomed to executing in more structured, methodical half-court sets.
Jimmy Butler is rightly garnering plenty of praise for his leadership an exemplary play on both ends of the floor in leading Miami to the brink of knocking off the East-leading Bucks. But let's not overlook the key contributions from veteran guard Goran Dragic.
For the first time in his five-plus seasons with the Heat — and really, in almost a decade overall — Dragic was asked to strictly come off the bench. He had a solid 2019-20 campaign, but since returning to the starting lineup for the playoffs, he's really turned it on.
Dragic has averaged 21.6 points, 4.5 boards, five assists and 1.4 steals in eight postseason starts, shooting 45.7% from the field and 37.9% from 3-point land. He's not far behind Butler (22.4 ppg) for the squad's playoff scoring lead. The Dragic-Butler duo, along with four other players, are averaging in double figures.
Bam Adebayo's athleticism, size and ball-handling skills make him a new style of big man that Milwaukee's vaunted defense doesn't really know how to attack. Tyler Herro, Jae Crowder and Duncan Robinson have all been dead-eye deep shooters, with Butler, Dragic and Adebayo able to create open looks for them throughout the postseason.
Yes, the Bucks have shooters, yet they're not as reliant on 3-pointers, and that's hurting them. Khris Middleton stepped up to keep Milwaukee's season alive with 36 points this past Sunday. It's asking a lot for him to be the main man, as the Deer's supporting cast simply isn't as multifaceted in skill nor as explosive in scoring.
There's no denying Miami suffered a letdown once Giannis exited the court. The Heat's tenacity and relentless effort is one constant under coach Erik Spoelstra, amplified by Butler leading the charge. Bettors probably don't expect another flat performance, so look for the Heat's spread and moneyline to take the majority of action.
That point total is low, accounting for the chunk of scoring Milwaukee stands to be without, barring a miraculous effort from Giannis. Both teams play stellar defense overall, and with Miami clamping down especially hard to close this out, look for wagers to skew to the Under.
Note: Odds current as of 12:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday, September 8.
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