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Bucks vs. Heat Preview | Bucks make final stop in South Beach

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
2013/14 NBA Season
(14-60, 5-32 road)
(51-22, 29-6 home)
April 2, 2014
American Airlines Arena | Miami, FL
6:30 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ / Audio League Pass
Probable Starters
Brandon Knight PG Mario Chalmers
Ramon Sessions SG James Jones
Khris Middleton SF LeBron James
Jeff Adrien PF Chris Bosh
Zaza Pachulia C Udonis Haslem
2013/14 Advanced Stats
91.8 (23rd) Pace 91.8 (25th)
102.6 (26th) ORtg 111.4 (3rd)
111.4 (30th) DRtg 105.8 (13th)

On the HeatHot Hot HoopsHeat Index

How good are the Heat? Well, consider the circumstances surrounding their 88-67 blowout win over the Bucks four days ago.

For starters, they rolled into the Bradley Center on Saturday without Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers--no biggie, just their top three guards. Of course, injuries are always more manageable when you've got the most talented player on the planet in your corner. Except even LeBron James looked rather mortal on Saturday, tying season-lows with just 13 points and two assists to go with four turnovers.

On paper, all of this should have been a recipe for the Bucks shocking the world, or at least taking the Heat down to the wire. I mean, if ever you're going to take down the Heat, this would be the night, right? Besides, the defending champs had lost eight of their last 14, so it's not like they'd been firing on all cylinders anyway.

But nope, this was not a game. Even without a true rim protector, the Heat's defense suffocated the Bucks' surging offense in cruising to an 88-67 laugher. And while scoring struggles would have been nothing new in Milwaukee for the first three months of the season, keep in mind that the Bucks rank a more-than-respectable 10th in the league in offensive efficiency since the all-star break (22 games). Good thing most people were distracted by the Badger game on Saturday, eh?

The circumstances aren't any easier for the Bucks tonight, not with Miami sporting the league's third-best home record (29-6), Wade possibly returning (questionable as of Tuesday night), and LeBron destined to not have his worst game of the season for the second time in a week. Then again, even if Wade's hamstring is feeling better, does it really make much sense to risk it at home against a team you just blew out on the road?

Heat wave. Miami can thank its defense for helping them reclaim the top spot in the Eastern Conference, as Erik Spoelstra's club has now held five consecutive opponents to 85 points or fewer, including their 93-83 win on Monday over the playoff-bound Raptors. That win coupled with a Pacer loss to San Antonio (complete with post-game Pacer finger-pointing) put the Heat back on top of the East by a whopping 0.6%, setting the stage for a frantic finish over the next couple weeks--provided the Pacers don't completely implode of course.

LeBron and Ebony. You probably recall Eric's mention of it in the recap, but be sure to check out Andrew Gruman's story at FS Wisconsin on LeBron James making a cancer-stricken Wisconsin teen's dream come true. Even the most hardened LeBron cynic has to smile and cheer for this story.

Tank watch.The Bucks remain two wins behind/ahead of the Sixers in the race for the top lotto seed with eight games left. But don't worry, Larry Drew doesn't hate you for caring more about draft picks than late-season wins. Via Charles Gardner:

"I know people are looking at the future, as far as the draft is concerned. They've already got their eyes pinpointed on players of the future. And that's normal. I don't fault them at all for that. But I just let it be known I don't pay too much attention to that. I just go out and try to coach this team, and wherever we end up, that's where we are."

All things Giannis. Missed the fun of Giannis' 14-point night against the Pistons? We've got you covered with all the video highlights.