On Tuesday evening, two of the 2020-21 NBA season Eastern Conference heavyweights - the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat - will face off in the first game of a double-header. This will be the first time the duo will lock horns since the Heat took down Milwaukee in five games in the playoff semi-finals last season.
It is unclear yet if the Miami Heat will be without superstar Jimmy Butler after the small forward sat out the second half of their Christmas Day win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Therefore, the majority of the attention will be on Giannis Antetokounmpo and if he can help the Bucks bounce back after an embarrassing 20-point loss to the New York Knicks.
Fixture: Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat - NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Tuesday, December 29th, 2020 - 7:30 PM ET (Wednesday, December 30th, 2020 - 6:00 AM IST)
Venue: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL.
The Milwaukee Bucks have started the 2020-21 NBA season on an indifferent note.
Despite bringing in additional scorers in the off-season, they have lost their opening two games on the road, doing so against the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks respectively. Sandwiched between these two games was a blowout victory over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.
Down in Miami, the Heat were also able to succeed in their festive fixture with a comfortable win over the New Orleans. However, their win was marred by their leader Jimmy Butler's ankle stiffness.
Miami were able to get the better of Milwaukee last year and will hope that their defensive solidity will be enough to thwart the Bucks' firepower.
Milwaukee Bucks Preview
After smothering a weak Golden State Warriors side on Christmas Day, the Milwaukee Bucks were dealt a timely reminder that they won't have it all their own way in the East this season.
The franchise had an extremely positive off-season this year but were unable to handle the New York Knicks' shooting efficiency on Sunday night.
The Milwaukee Bucks shot just 18% from beyond the arc compared with the Knicks' 59%.
On all three shooting gauges (field goal, 3-PT and FT), the Knicks were better than their opponents. If the Milwaukee Bucks harbor any hope of overcoming the Miami Heat's solid defensive unit, they will need to reverse these statistics.
Key Player - Giannis Antetokounmpo
If there is one player the Milwaukee Bucks can rely on, it is their two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Thiis season, the power forward, who has averaged 25 points and 13 rebounds, will hope to join a historic group of players with a three peat of MVP trophies.
Antetokounmpo kept the Milwaukee Bucks faithful waiting during the off-season before signing a massive max contract extension that will keep him at the franchise for another five years.
The Greek superstar missed his chance to succeed in the playoffs last year after he was forced off with an injury sustained against the Heat in Game 4. After being 3-0 down, the series was already gone, and the Bucks made a disappointing exit.
If the Milwaukee Bucks are to improve their fortunes this time around, Giannis Antetokounmpo will have to be at the center of everything they conjure.
Milwaukee Bucks' Predicted Line-p
G Jrue Holiday, G Donte DiVincenzo, F Giannis Antetokounmpo, F Khris Middleton, C Brook Lopez.
Miami Heat Preview
The Miami Heat have picked up from where they left off last season. Their all-for-one attitude means that their offense has several points of attack, and their defensive structure is difficult to break down. Their teamwork makes them unafraid of any opponent, and the Heat thrive on being classed as the underdogs.
Duncan Robinson lit up the Miami Heat offense on Christmas Day, sinking seven threes in a record-tying feat on a festive matchup.
Robinson, along with the Heat's other perimeter shooters, will be key, as they have the ability to hurt the Milwaukee Bucks. With consistent 3-point scoring hurting the Bucks in New York, the Heat could rely on this tactic to help them get past the Bucks on Tuesday night.
Key Player - Bam Adebayo
The Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo earned his first All-Star appearance in 2020 in what was a career-year for the young power forward.
His development was exponential last season, and the franchise clearly have huge faith in Adebayo, as they offered the 23-year-old a contract extension in November.
With the possibility that Jimmy Butler could be out, Adebayo will have to be dominant on the floor, as he will have the likes of Antetokounmpo to contend with.
Adebayo could have his hands full facing up to the Greek. However, if his performances thus far are anything to go by, coach Spoelstra could rely on another impressive display from his young star.
After recording 21 points and 7.5 rebounds in the opening two games, Adebayo will need to continue his good form if he hopes to get the better of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Miami Heat Predicted Lineup
G Tyler Herro, G Avery Bradley, F Duncan Robinson, F Bam Adebayo, C Meyers Leonard.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat Match Prediction
The Miami Heat will fancy their chances in their matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks if they have talismanic forward Jimmy Butler available. However, with the likelihood that Butler could be absent, Milwaukee are expected to be too strong for the Heat.
After being run out of New York by the Knicks, the Bucks could be out for revenge. They have an elite defense that can nullify the threat the Heat possess from beyond the arc. Giannis Antetokounmp will be confident of scoring big in this game and lead his team back to winning ways.
Where to watch Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat?
In the USA, the game will be live on the Fox Sports and TNT networks. International fans can stream the game live on the NBA League Pass.Published 29 Dec 2020, 01:09 IST