The top team in the Eastern Conference gets its playoffs started on Sunday as the Milwaukee Bucks (58-24) host the Miami Heat (45-39). This game will be played at Fiserv Forum, with tipoff scheduled for 5:30 pm ET.
The Bucks are heavy favorites to win this one. They are -450 to win, while the Heat’s moneyline sits at +350. The spread features Miami as 9.5-point underdogs (-110), and the over/under for total points is 218.5 (-110).
Heat Hope To Lockdown The Bucks As Road Underdogs
While the Heat are major underdogs in this one, they are hoping that their defense can give them a chance despite playing on the road. The Heat are the second-best team in the NBA in scoring defense, allowing just 109.6 points per game to opponents.
That defense was on full display in their last play-in game as they held the Chicago Bulls to just 91 points.
Offensively, the Heat are not nearly as strong. In fact, they rank dead last in the NBA in scoring, averaging just 109.3 points per game (107.5 on the road).
Luckily, they have seen forward Max Strus step up his game as of late. In that last win over the Bulls, both Strus and forward Jimmy Butler tied for a game-high 31 points.
In that win, Tyler Herro (12 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) and Bam Adebayo (8 points, 17 rebounds) also had strong performances.
Bucks Hope To Live Up To Expectations
At +240, the Milwaukee Bucks are currently the favorite to win the NBA championship. Trying to live up to those expectations, they will look for an opening win against the Heat at home, where they are 32-9 this season.
Offensively, the Bucks rank eighth in the NBA, averaging 116.9 points per game. They are led by star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. In 63 games this season, the “Greek Freak” is averaging 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game.
Other major contributors for the Bucks include Jrue Holiday (19.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 7.4 assists), Brook Lopez (15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks), Khris Middleton (15.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists), and Bobby Portis (14.1 points, 9.6 rebounds).
On the defensive side, the Bucks rank 14th in the league, allowing opponents an average of 113.3 points per game.
Take The Heat And The Points
Looking at the trends, the Miami Heat are 5-2 in their last seven games and 4-1 in their last five against Central Division teams. Still, they are just 4-9 in their last 13 games against the Bucks and 1-4 against the spread in their last five road games.
As for the Bucks, they are 16-4 in their last 20 home games and 13-6 in their last 19 games overall. They have gone just 2-6-1 against the spread in their last nine games.
Worth noting, the total has gone OVER in the last five matchups between these two teams at the Fiserv Forum.
On paper, the Milwaukee Bucks are not only the better team in this matchup, but they might be the best team in basketball. Still, spotting a strong defensive team like the Heat 9.5 points on the spread feels like a lot.
While Milwaukee will likely take this first game, take the Heat at +9.5 (-110).