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2018-19: NBA Starting Lineups and Match Prediction - Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat

Jason Mills
ANALYST
Feature
485   //    14 Mar 2019, 22:01 IST

March 15th, 2019 at The American Airlines Arena Milwaukee Bucks vs The Miami Heat

Miami Heat v Charlotte Hornets
Miami Heat v Charlotte Hornets

On Friday, March 15th, 2019 from the American Airlines Arena, in Miami Florida, The Miami Heat will host the Milwaukee Bucks. This contest could be a late-season preview of the 2019 NBA’s Eastern Conference first round of the playoffs. The Heat are currently ranked 8th in the East and the Bucks are the number one seed. Miami have some work to do if that is to be the scenario. 

The Heat are 2.5 games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the 6th seed in the East and 2 behind the Detroit Pistons for the 7th seed but are just 2 games ahead of the Orlando Magic who are in 9th in the East. 

Any late-season collapse for the Heats could mean no playoff dates and a quiet end to the career for one of the greats of the NBA in Dwyane Wade who is set to retire whenever this season ends for Miami.

It's hard to tell which way things will go for the Heat. With 15 games left, they are 32-35 on the season and only 16-19 at home. The Miami team is mediocre at best and while Wade remains an important contributing player to their fortunes he is not what he once was. 

A former 3-time NBA Champion, all with Miami, and a former league MVP, Wade is averaging 25.5 mpg and just 14.1 ppg. Based on shot attempts at 12.5 per game he is the 4th option offensively for this Heat team. While Wade can still provide this team with a lift every once in a while, he can’t do it every night anymore.

The Milwaukee Bucks come into this contest, with a loss and a win in their last two away games against San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans respectively. Miami will be the last stop on a three-game road trip for them. 

Where the Miami Heat are a sub-par team at home, the Bucks are downright scary opponents when they are away from home. They come into this Friday night contest as not only the best team in the NBA and Eastern Conference but as the holders of the best road record in the Association at 24-12. 

Led by potential 2019 NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks cannot be taken lightly anywhere they play.

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Expected Starting Lineups

Milwaukee Bucks Starters

Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee Bucks

Bucks' head coach, Mike Budenholzer, provided he has a healthy squad will start Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brook Lopez in the frontcourt. He will also likely start guards Malcon Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe.

Miami Heat Starters

Miami Heat
Miami Heat

Miami’s head coach Eric Spoelstra will likely counter the leaders with a lineup of Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, and Bam Adebayo in the frontcourt. Expect the guards starting to be Justice Winslow and Dion Waiters.


Expectations and Match Prediction

The expectation here is the Miami Heat will struggle to score against the Bucks. First, Miami only average 106.1ppg for the season and that is the third worst in the NBA. Their top scorer is Josh Richardson averaging 17.2 ppg and nobody else averages 15 or more points per game for the Heats. 

They do have 8 players averaging double-digit scoring but nobody on this team is a game changer except for potentially Wade but he’s 37 years old, coming off of the bench, and retiring in perhaps a month and a half. 

The overall shooting efficiency of the Heat is in the bottom 3rd in the NBA at just 45.3%. In fact, the most efficient shooters the Heat possess are their centers Bam Adebayo at 57.8% and Hassan Whiteside at 55.3% but combined they average just 15.4 field goal attempts per game. 

The Heat are not a particularly fast or creative team either as they are just 27th in the association with 87.5 shot attempts per game and 20th in assists per game at 24.1. 

The Miami side did blow out the Detroit Pistons in their last home game 108-74 on the strength of 7 double-digit scorers and forcing the Pistons into shooting just 21.6% from 3-point range on 8-37 attempts. 

They also harassed the Pistons into 17 turnovers. The Heat will need to be stingy and tough defending the perimeter and forcing mistakes against the Buicks too.

The Bucks will need to stay away from turnovers. It's been mentioned before, other than his 3-point shooting which he has been working on, Antetokounmpo can be careless with the basketball. 

His assists to turnover ratio are 5.9 assists - 3.9 turnovers averaged per game. There is so little wrong with Antetokounmpo’s game and the ball is in his hands but pressure from the Heat’s perimeter defenders could spell trouble for the Bucks. 

At just 35.1% from three-point range ranking 18th in the NBA, the Bucks are not deterred from shooting 3-point shots. They rank 2nd in the association taking 38 attempts out of their 90 plus field goal attempts per game. This means the three-point shot made or missed accounts for 41% of the Bucks offensive strategy.

Miami’s head coach, Eric Spoelstra, can help Milwaukee shoot themselves out of this game if he can just get his team to keep the Bucks shooters on the perimeter firing contested shots. Either Milwaukee will make or miss these three-pointers. However, it’s either that or the alternative being Antetokounmpo attacking the rim all game which he will try to do regularly. 

The Bucks have an opportunity to run up the score on the Heat if they could force some turnovers. However, while Miami ranks 22nd in the NBA giving away 15.1 possessions per game the Bucks are 23rd in the NBA at forcing turnovers. 

The Miami Heat hold a tenuous grasp on the final playoff spot for the Eastern Conference playoffs. They are also in striking distance of 6th or 7th spot. However, with Milwaukee in town Friday night any serious push to improve their playoff ranking will have to wait until another day. 

Their weak home record does not give them any hope or comfort either. The Milwaukee Bucks should win this game comfortably by 10 points.

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