Milwaukee – The Milwaukee Bucks (12-15) will take on the Miami Heat (21-7) tonight at the Bradley Center with a chance for a three-game sweep on the line.
The Bucks are the only team to defeat the Heat twice this season (once in Miami and once in Milwaukee) and did so by a combined 17 points. They will need to capitalize on every opportunity they get in order to make it a third time. Considering the Heat have only lost seven games all season, it is an impressive feat that the Bucks make up almost a third of the losses.
There is no doubt the Heat will be bringing it tonight as they do not want to be swept by a below .500 team and want to keep pace with the Chicago Bulls for the first seed in the Eastern Conference. Miami has only lost one game since losing to Milwaukee on February 1st and has posted an incredible 10-3 record since first playing the Bucks on January 22nd, with two of the three losses obviously coming at the hands of the Bucks.
If Milwaukee wants to have a chance at defeating Miami they must have Brandon Jennings be at his best. In both meetings against the Heat this season, Jennings is averaging 27.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game in 38.5 minutes. There is no question when he plays at a high-tempo the rest of the team gains confidence and follows in his footsteps.
The Bucks must also attempt high-percentage shots and convert as many three-pointers as possible. This will allow Milwaukee to stay in the game if Miami’s defense does not let them to get to the basket for points in the paint. It is no secret the Bucks are an outside-shooting team but in order for it to be effective they must convert those shots.
The most important thing the Bucks must do tonight is play aggressive defense and force difficult shots. Miami’s “Big Three” is going to do everything they can to get to the foul line so Milwaukee must be prepared to defend that. The Bucks combined for 19 steals and 10 blocks in the two previous games while the Heat had 15 steals and five blocks. Although these seem like insignificant statistics in the big scheme of things, it is very important Milwaukee wins these battles. Steals and blocks can go a long way to fast break points.
It is easier said than done but if Milwaukee can somehow hold LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to low shooting percentages, there is no doubt they have a realistic shot at winning the game. In the first meeting between these two teams, the Heat’s other players only converted 25.7 percent from the field while James and Bosh combined for 50 percent. In the second game, the “Big Three” shot 50.9 percent while the rest of the team only made 28.5 percent. I understand it is a tall task but if Milwaukee’s defense can buckle down there is a good chance they complete the sweep.