It’s the start of the NBA First-Round Playoffs. For the Eastern Conference, the 5th Seed New York Knicks are 1-0 against the 4th Seed Cleveland Cavaliers. The 6th Seed Brooklyn Nets are down 0-1 against the 3rd Seed Philadelphia 76ers, and 7th Seed Atlanta Hawks are down 0-1 against the 2nd Seed, the Boston Celtics. The Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks currently have the highest odds of winning an NBA Championship.
Tonight, the 8th Seed Miami Heat face the 1st Seed, Milwaukee Bucks, and the regular season series is tied 2-2. The two teams will play tonight at 5:30 PM EDT at Fiserv Forum, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In addition, the matchup will air on TNT. If you are looking for the best betting odds for the NBA Championship, here is information to know:
NBA Championship Odds:
Milwaukee Bucks: +265
Boston Celtics: +295
Philadelphia 76ers: +1000
New York Knicks: +6500
Cleveland Cavaliers: +7000
Miami Heat: +25000
Atlanta Hawks: +60000
Brooklyn Nets: +70000
NBA Daily First-Round Odds.
Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Spread: Miami +9.5, Milwaukee -9.5
The Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the East, and currently have the highest odds of winning an NBA Championship. They rank 8th in Points Per Game (116.9), 10th in Three-Point Shooting (36.8), 29th in Free-Throw Percentage (74.3), 1st in Rebounds (48.6), 12th in Assist (25.8), and 21st in turnovers (13.9). On the defensive side, the Bucks rank 14th in Opponent Points Per Game (113.3), 28th in Steals (6.4), and 11th in Blocks (4.9). The First Round is held in Milwaukee, where they are 32-9 at home games this season.
Rebounding, Giannis, Corner Threes, Perimeter Defense.
The Bucks rank 1st in the League in Rebounds this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo Leads the way with 11.8 Rebounds per game, and Bobby Portis, with 9.6 Rebounds per game. Also, Milwaukee ranks 1st in the league in Defensive Rebounds Per Game (27.5). The Bucks are a Rim Protector team, also led by Center Brook Lopez, who is averaging 18.8 Points Per Game, 2.4 Blocks, and 7 Rebounds in his last 10 games.
It’s no secret Giannis Antetokounmpo is the driving force for this team’s success. He’s in the top 3 MVP once again and is one of the most elite players in the game of basketball. He averaged a Career-High 31.1 Points Per Game, 11.8 Rebounds, and 5.7 Assists Per Game. Although he’s a 27.5 percent Three-Point Shooter, Giannis shot 55.3 percent from the field. He can size up in the paint, drive to the basket, protect the rim, and grab boards. He will be THE key player in this series.
The Bucks are efficient at shooting the Three (They rank 10th in the league), and they also rank 4th in the League in Three Points Made (47.3). Jrue Holiday is averaging 43.9 percent from the Three at Home Games, and Grayson Allen is shooting 44.1 percent from the Three at Home as well. Although Jevon Carter only averaged 8 Points Per game, he averaged 42.1 percent from downtown this year. I expect him to be an x factor as well. You can’t rule out Bobby Portis, or Pat Connaughton, who averages 37 percent from the Three against Miami this season.
Milwaukee is excellent at guarding perimeter shots, thanks to guard Jrue Holiday. Whether in man or zone, this is a player who locks up everything in the league. The Bucks rank 8th in Opponent Three-Point Percentage, holding teams to 35 percent beyond the arc.
Health of Khris Middleton, Free-Throw Percentage.
The Health of Khris Middleton has been a concern all season long. According to the Athletic, “Milwaukee Bucks star Khris Middleton underwent an MRI on his injured right knee on Thursday, which came back clean. Middleton unfortunately missed the bulk of the playoffs last year due to a MCL sprain and had wrist surgery in the Bucks offseason. Although the Bucks claim he is healthy to play, Middleton made an appearance in only 33 regular season games. In those 33 games, he averaged 15.1 Points, 4.9 Assists, and shot an underwhelming 31.5 percent from the Three, and 43.6 Percent from the Field.
The Milwaukee Bucks are not good at Free-Throws, and this is an issue that can be the difference maker in close games. The Bucks are not a team that frequently gets to the line, and their percentage ranks second to last in the league (74.3 percent). Giannis Antetokounmpo is shooting almost 10 percent less from the line compared to last year. He averaged 64.5 percent from the line, and only 56.3 Percent in two games against Miami this year. It’s important to note, although Jrue Holiday averaged 85.9 percent at the line this year, he only shot 64.3 percent from the free-throw line in four games against Miami.
•The regular season series is tied 2-2 between the Bucks and the Heat.
•Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 19.5 points and 7.5 Assists, and 10.7 Rebounds against the Miami Heat this season. In those two games, Giannis shot 65 percent from the field, and struggled from the line.
•Grayson Allen averaged 15.7 points per game and 3.7 Assists against the Heat. In three games against Miami, Allen shot 52.4 percent from the three, and 50 percent from the field.
•Forward Khris Middleton averaged 18 Points, 1 steal, 5.5 Rebounds, and shot 59 percent from the field in two games against the Heat. Also, he only played 19 minutes in those two games. Expect him to contribute much more in this series, if healthy.
The Heat got a second chance, after losing to the Atlanta Hawks 116-105 in the NBA Play-In Tournament. Thanks to Jimmy Butler, the Heat beat the Bulls 102-91 to advance to the NBA First-Round Playoffs. Stat- wise, the Heat rank last in the league in Points Per Game (109.5), 25th in Assists Per Game (23.8), 27th in Rebounds Per Game (40.6), and 27th in Three Point Percentage (34.4). Although Miami struggles in most of those categories, they are 2nd in the league in Opponent Points-Per Game (109.8) and Opponent Field Goal Attempts (83.2). Miami Started their season 12-15 and won 4 out of their 5 last regular season games. Although Miami has not performed to their expectations, Head Coach Erik Spoelstra has experience in the postseason, and Jimmy Butler (Playoff Jimmy) is known for his tough playoff performance. We saw this in their last win over Chicago.
The Heat are one of the best defensive teams in the league. They do not allow many points per game, and they rank 3rd in the league in Free Throw Attempts (21.1). They also rank 6th in Steals Per-Game (8.0). In addition, they rank 6th in the league in Opponent Rebounds Per Game (41.8), and 2nd in the league in opponent field goal attempts (83.2). Regarding Rebounds, Miami ranks 1st in the league in Opponent Offensive Rebounds Per Game (8.9). Although they do not get to the free-throw line much, they make their shots when it matters. Miami is 2nd in the league in Free-Throw percentage (83.1). In addition, Miami handles the ball well, and does not commit as high of turnovers compared to the rest of the NBA. Although they were outrebounded by Atlanta by a large margin, they redeemed themselves against the Chicago Bulls.
Miami showed their lack of bench depth in their last two games. Besides Kyle Lowry adding 33 points, the rest of the Heat bench put up only 4 points. Also, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro all played 35 minutes and above. In the win against Chicago, Lowry, Caleb Martin, and Kevin Love were the only players available from the bench, in which they only put up 20 points.
Although they are a very good defensive team, they allow opponents to shoot 36.7 percent from the three-point-point, and 48.2 percent from the field. They do not get to the free-throw line frequently and rank dead last in the league in points scored. In addition, the Heat do not shoot the ball well beyond the arc (34.4) and rank towards the bottom in Assists. Although Miami has stars in Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, they lack a true point guard and playmaker. Tyler Herro is perfect as a 2 guard, although he’s struggled as of late, and Max Struss is starting in place of Veteran Point guard Kyle Lowry. Kyle Lowry exploded for 33 points in their loss to Atlanta but had just 5 points against the Bulls. They held Chicago to 28.6 three-point shooting last game. Can they do this against Milwaukee? Can Max Strus shoot lights out again beyond the arc?
•Max Strus scored 31 Points, had 2 steals, and shot 7-12 from the Three in the win against the Bulls.
•Bam Adebayo grabbed 17 rebounds in the last game.
•Jimmy Butler averages 22 Points, 6.3 Rebounds, and shot 40 percent from the three in four games against the Bucks.
•Bam Adebayo averaged 19.6 Points and 10.8 Rebounds in 4 games against Milwaukee.
Bucks in 5.
Although the regular series was tied 2-2 between these two teams, Giannis only played in two of those matchups. Milwaukee has one of the best players in the game, great defense, and they can grab rebounds. They also have a considerable amount of depth compared to Miami. Give me the Bucks in 5.
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Sara Jane is a full-time content creator, focusing on both college basketball, the NBA, NFL, and writer of Ballislife.com. Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter: @GGirlSports
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