After leaving Game 1 early with a lower back injury, Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo has subsequently missed the last two games of the series, resulting in the Bucks looking at a 2-1 series deficit.
The Heat relied on production from beyond the arc in both wins this series over the Bucks, shooting 60% from three on 25 attempts in Game 1 and 48.5% from three on 33 attempts in Game 3.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo officially expected back for Game 4, will we see the Bucks’ defense make adjustments to prevent production from deep? How will Giannis’ presence alter the offense that the Heat will need to combat?
The likely answer to both of these questions has me leaning in the Bucks’ favor against the spread tonight.
BUCKS VS. HEAT BETTING ODDS
Lines accurate at the time of publication
BUCKS VS. HEAT BEST BETS
Bucks -7 (-110, FanDuel)
As alluded to above, it took the Heat having a pair of out-of-body experiences from deep to bury the Bucks, but this has been a trend that’s developed over the past several seasons. If a team can get hot from deep and post an outlier performance, they have a fantastic shot at defeating the Bucks given how Milwaukee chooses to defend (to allow threes).
Fortunately for the Bucks, I don’t expect this trend to continue, at least in this series. While the Heat ranked 10th in terms of attempted threes per game in the regular season (34.6), they ranked only 24th in percentage (34.8%) and 16th in threes made per game (12.0). These games also account for Tyler Herro, who won’t be available for the remainder of this series.
On top of the expected regression from deep, the Bucks getting Antetokounmpo back adds an obvious layer to their offense that’s impossible to duplicate when he’s out. Their offense rating without him (112.3) jumps seven points to 119.3 when he’s on the floor and opponents hold an anemic offensive rating of 111.9 when going up against the Bucks when he’s on the floor. It’s not rocket science – the Heat are at a massive disadvantage with Antetokounmpo active.
As long as the Bucks can limit the Heat’s production from three to even a realistic level, they should have no problem breezing by the Heat in this game, giving me optimism when laying the points.
Risk: 1.1 units on FanDuel to win 1 unit.
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