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Bucks vs. Heat Preview: Finishing the Road Trip in the Sand and Sun

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NBA: Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping the first game on their short two night road trip against the Hawks, the Bucks will look to try and move their way back above .500 when they head to Miami to take on the struggling Heat. Maybe a day in the sands, sun, and fun of South Beach will be enough to cure Milwaukee’s ills?

Bucks Update

Last night’s 100-107 loss in Atlanta to the Hawks was Bucks-ian in every sense, but can be best summed up by the statement, “too little, too late.” Giannis Antetokounmpo had a very Giannis stat-line at 26 pts, 15 rebs, and seven assists, and the Bucks actually did enough to win three out of the four quarters. Unfortunately, they somehow cobbled together only nine points in an excruciating second quarter which saw the Hawks jump out to what proved to be an insurmountable 52-35 lead at the half. Here’s Frank and Eric’s podcast review from late last night:

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Beyond those numbers, the same problems that have been on display throughout the year continue to hamper Milwaukee. The team is strongly reliant on Giannis doing a majority of the work on both ends, and any extended time in which both he and Jabari Parker are off the floor is a problem. That issue is often exacerbated by puzzling lineup choices by coach Jason Kidd, and even an opponent as lowly as Miami may find themselves in prime position to make a run large enough to leave Milwaukee once more in the unenviable position of having to string a comeback together for a chance at a win.

But, maybe the Bucks will come out shooting well from three tonight and put the game away early. We can all dream, can’t we?

Heat Update

The Miami Heat have been known as a lot of things since the turn of the 21st Century, but the one constant had always been Dwyane Wade. That was, until this last off-season when Wade finally grew fed up enough with GM Pat Riley’s unwillingness to pay up for Dwyane’s services, leading the guard to other pastures in Chicago. With the departure of the face of their franchise, Miami quickly circled the wagons and signed much of their young talent to a series of contracts which should retain tradeability for quite some time.

Of course, relying on a core of mostly okay players and Hassan Whiteside won’t net you much in the way of wins and losses, and the Heat enter tonight with a paltry record of 2-8. The aforementioned Whiteside has been his usual statistical monster (with per 36 numbers at 19.9 pts, 17.3 rebs, and 2.5 blks) and Goran Dragic has been his usual productive self as well (per 36 at 18.6 pts, 6.7 asts, and 4.4 rebs on 55.8% TS).

And those young guys have equally shown promise with the trio of Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Tyler Johnson combining to average 40.6 pts, 13.1 rebs, and 12.7 asts per 36. None of those guys have yet to fully break out, but at least they show promise and have contributed something to the team.

So how can the Heat have such a poor record? Part of the issue is that the team as a whole is atrocious on offense, netting the league’s 29th worst offensive rating (98.6) even with a top-5 defensive rating (101.9) to boot. They also don’t get to the free throw line often, and any shots that they do get up don’t seem to go in with regularity (sound familiar?).

In regards to injuries, the Heat are dealing with a few: Chris Bosh will probably not see the court this year due to a highly-publicized blood clotting issue, Goran Dragic has been dealing with ankle trouble and his status is questionable, a quad injury for Wayne Ellington leaves him with no timetable for return, and a left wrist issue for Justise Winslow leaves him also questionable.