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Eastern Conference 1st Round: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat
Miami is favoured almost everywhere to win the NBA championship so this first series will show us how the Heat are going to turn it up in the playoffs. If you think they were good in the regular season, wait for them to start playing for something real like a championship. The Bucks however, have a chip on their shoulder and aren’t going to let Miami walk all over them. Just ask Brandon Jennings who has them winning in 6. I mean they have nothing to lose like he says, so everyone writing off the Bucks so early – well don’t expect them to roll over.
How Milwaukee Wins:
Milwaukee has to go into this series the way Brandon Jennings is approaching it. He’s serious, he’s ready to play but he’s knows who he’s up against and he knows his team has nothing to lose. The Bucks could really do something special if they all have fun together in this series and give it their all. In essence, what Jennings is doing is giving his team confidence by putting himself out there and letting them know as their leader that they’re not scared to play the Heat. Now in terms of on the court stuff, the Bucks are overmatched talent wise. Every team is outmatched against the Heat but there are ways to beat the Heat. There are weaknesses that can be but on display if they do it right. First, the Bucks need to out-rebound Miami. They have to absolutely crush them on the boards. Miami is dead last rebounds per game with 46, while the Bucks are 4th with about 53 a game. Miami plays small ball and they prefer to get up the court rather than crash the boards, which is something the Bucks need to take advantage of. If they can create second opportunities against Miami they’ll have more possessions and better chances at racking up the points because scoring in the half-court against Miami is never easy. If they can create easy points on the boards, their offense will open up. Another way they can have a better chance against Miami is to take their three point shooters out of the game. The Big Three score about 65 points a game among the three of them, but because it’s the playoffs you can expect 75 points a game or so from those three. If Milwaukee can take the role players out of the series the Heat will not be able to win. They rely on driving and kicking and swinging the ball, so if guys like Mike Miller, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Norris Cole even Mario Chalmers aren’t hitting shots than the Bucks have a shot. It sounds easy, but it’s going to be hard and it’s going to involve their perimeter guys running them off the three point line and playing tough against them. Shooters don’t like to be touched, so if they can rough them up on drives, or really make them feel their presence they can cut the shoulders and the torso and the legs off of Miami. I would say don’t turn the ball over but Milwaukee is very good at taking care of the ball – only losing it 14 times a game. I would also say score down low, but MIlwaukee really doesn’t have any low post presence, a good chunk of their scoring comes from J.J Reddick, Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings and Ilyasova at the stretch 4. Those 4 account for an average of 72 points per game for Milwaukee so somehow they are going to need some scoring from down low. They’re center is either Andersen or Haslem, both undersized for the position so they’re going to need they’re big men to try and get some easy points there. Defensively, they really just have to help each other out. One on one defense doesn’t beat Miami. Nobody can stop Lebron and D-Wade one on one attacking the rim like they do. They need their rotations to be crisp and they need their big men to be aggressive down low and be ready to alter shots. Miami is a scoring machine, and it’s going to take everybody on their roster to give them a hard time. Also, for both Jennings and Ellis who could be free agents this season it’s time to show what they’re worth if they want to play for a contender next season.
How Miami Wins:
Miami is favoured in this series, and favoured overall to come away with the chip. Now, Milwaukee may not feel pressure but to say that Miami feels pressure is so two years ago. This team is so mature and experienced right now after the new additions and after their win last year against OKC. They don’t feel pressure, c’mon, they’re playing against Milwaukee who they’ve beaten three times this season by an average margin of 10.3 points. They know who they are and honestly they’ve been so dominant this season that it’s hard to think of any possible way that Milwaukee could really beat them. They can’t slack off though, they have to come out and kill them and show the entire league they mean business. They need their shooters tuned in this match-up. Like I said, without them hitting threes and spreading the floor for the penetration of Wade and Lebron the Heat’s offense doesn’t run smoothly and in turn isn’t as effective. The entire Heat team needs to show up. I expect Lebron to keep doing his thing in this series, against a Bucks team without anybody who can really handle him. D-Wade has a mismatch against Ellis – the undersized, defensively challenged 2. Chris Bosh also has to abuse Ilyasova another poor defensive player. The Big 3 should be going in with a smile knowing who they’re going to be guarded by. I expect them to have their way with Milwaukee. That’s really it, there’s not much they need to do against Milwaukee besides play their game. Drive, kick, score points in transition and dominate like they did the entire season.
Who Will Win?
This is simply the first obstacle in a chain of many for Miami and I expect they’ll knock this match-up out the park. Miami has the best player in the world and they want to repeat now. One ring is great, but they know their goal is not one… not two… not three… and so on and so on rings. It’s their time.
Miami with the Sweep. 4-0.
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