The Milwaukee Bucks have had a slow opening to this season, already losing two out of three games. Their only consolation so far has been good performances by their star player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and newcomer Jrue Holiday. Antetokounmpo is averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds per contest. All eyes will be on the Bucks, who finished at the top of the East least season. They will feel the pressure to record a win and avenge their loss to the Heat in the 2019-2020 conference semifinals.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat have split their season with a win and a loss. In the 2019-20 postseason, they surprised everyone with a dazzling playoff performance, leading them to their first NBA Finals since featuring the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in 2014.
Riddled with multiple player injuries, they couldn't hold their ground in the NBA Finals, losing to the LA Lakers in five. With Goran Dragic fully recovered and Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson gaining more confidence, they will be hoping to become even better this season. Jimmy Butler, aka "Jimmy Buckets," will be roaring to go against the team they defeated in a major upset in the last playoffs.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat Prediction: 3 key matchups to look for
After meeting each other in the postseason a few months back, both teams will be familiar with key matchups to concentrate on. Giannis will no doubt play with a chip on his shoulder and will want to deliver a monster performance as they register a big win. The Miami Heat, on the other hand, will be raring to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks once again, announcing their arrival as the new sheriff in the East.
Let's take a look at 3 key matchups between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat that may come down as the deciding factors for the win.
No. 3 - Khris Middleton vs Moe Harkless
While Khris Middleton had a nice outing against the Warriors on Christmas Day, that was sandwiched around two games that have been disappointing. In Sunday's loss to the Knicks, Middleton scored 22 points but struggled from long range, shooting one of six from 3-point range in 33 minutes. Having said that, Middleton is a prolific scorer who can light up his match-up with Moe Harkless, where he is favored to come out on top.
This offseason, Miami's front office signed Moe Harkless to strengthen their defense, an area where they have been lacking for several years now. Harkless gave Heat fans their money's worth with his monster block on Brandon Ingram as they defeated the visiting New Orleans Pelicans. Watch for the young talent to do something similar this time around.
No. 2 - Jrue Holiday vs Jimmy Butler
Another key matchup to watch for will be between Miami Heat shooting guard Jimmy Butler and Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Jrue Holiday. Holiday has been an excellent pickup for the Bucks this off-season and has already made his presence felt with high-grade performances in his first three games. He has been red hot on both ends of the floor, making him a worthy matchup for Butler.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler could see limited minutes as he suffered a sore right ankle in their season-opener with the Orlando Magic. The 31-year-old veteran who is otherwise known for his stellar defensive skills will have to play with caution to protect the rest of his season.
No. 1 - Giannis Antetokounmpo vs Bam Adebayo
This battle of giants between the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo will be a thrilling showdown to say the least. Both players have opened the season with good performances and will be aching to one-up each other. Giannis will have the edge as he does with most matchups, putting the onus of stopping him in his tracks on Adebayo.
Last postseason, Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat went head to head with Giannis in three games before the latter suffered an ankle injury in Game 4 that sealed the Bucks' fate as they lost to the Heat in five. Giannis will have his eyes set on beating the Heat this time around and showing Bucks fans why he won back-to-back MVPs.Published 29 Dec 2020, 00:48 IST