The last day of August brings the opening game of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks. The fourth-seeded Heat swept the Indiana Pacers in the first round, while the top-seeded Bucks had to play one more game against the Orlando Magic.
These two foes met each other once in the postseason, and the Heat swept the Bucks in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. The upcoming series should be far more interesting to watch, so we have prepared all need-to-know betting tips and trends along with the best betting pick for Game 1 between the Heat and Bucks.
Miami is without Chris Silva (pelvis), while Milwaukee is coming in full strength.
The Bucks opened as 5.5-point favorites with a total of 223.5 points on BetAmerica. Milwaukee has been listed as a fave in its last nine encounters with Miami, and the Bucks are massive -550 favorites to qualify for the conference finals, according to Sugarhouse.
What’s at Stake?
Both teams will try to make a statement in Game 1 and put them in as a strong position as they can. Still, from this point of view, this seems to be a long and exciting series, so the opener won’t determine the overall winner.
The Heat were ruthless in the previous round, giving no chances to the fifth-seeded Pacers. They preserved the energy for a tough clash with the Bucks, but we can say the same thing about the top seeders. Milwaukee had an easy job against the Magic after dropping the opening game of their first-round series.
The Bucks and Heat met each other three times this past regular season, and Miami is 2-1 SU and ATS in that span. However, the Bucks beat the Heat 130-116 as 9.5-point favorites in the bubble.
Goran Dragic was leading the way for the Heat in the first round, averaging 22.8 points and 5.0 assists per game. Jimmy Butler was tallying 19.8 points, 5.3 boards, and 4.0 assists per contest, and he’ll be a key guy for the Heat in the Bucks series.
Miami will have to find a way to deal with Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Butler will have to help defensively as much as he can. Giannis was dominating the Magic in the previous round, averaging 31.2 points, 15.8 rebounds, and 6.8 dimes per contest.
In three encounters with the Heat in the regular season, the reigning MVP has been posting 25.0 points, 14.7 boards, and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 55.4% from the field and 65.0% from the free-throw line.
Both teams are capable of playing tough defense. Milwaukee had the best defensive rating in the league in the regular season, surrendering only 102.9 points per 100 possessions. The Heat were 10th with 109.5 points allowed per 100 possessions.
Free NBA Picks
While the Bucks love to push the ball in transition and play at a fast pace, the Heat prefer a much slower tempo. Milwaukee leads the NBA with 105.1 possessions per 48 minutes, while Miami is 27th in the league with 98.3 possessions per 48 minutes.
If they want to pull off an upset, the Heat will have to force the Bucks into half-court basketball. They have an experienced head coach in Erik Spoelstra, so I think the Heat will know how to slow down things.
Therefore, my top betting pick is the under on the totals at -110 odds. The under has hit in eight of the previous 11 meetings between the Heat and Bucks.
The Bucks are favorites for a reason and should win the opener, but I would avoid the side bet in Game 1.