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Bucks vs Heat Preview: Giannis returns for rematch with Heat

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The Miami Heat travel to Milwaukee mid-winter to face the Bucks

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks rallied back from two straight losses against Eastern conference playoff contenders for a big win in San Antonio (their first since 2008!) against the Spurs. Michael Beasley and co. notched the win with future All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo playing a limited role while he still recovers from an illness.

Bucks Update

A comeback win against the stoic, veteran Spurs is no easy task, but the Bucks showed moxie coming from 13 points down in the second quarter and shooting 10/19 from the three point line. Michael Beasley has been a key contributor off the bench all season, and he had a season-high 28 points against the Spurs and a beautiful backside block near the end to boot.

Beasley was the fulcrum of the offense down the stretch on Tuesday, but after two days rest we should see Giannis play a more significant role against the Heat after his 14-game streak with at least 22 points ended with his nine minute scoreless evening. Fire up the tzatziki IV and Giannis should be close to 100% for Friday night.

Going 2 of 3 from the arc en route to 22 points even though he was encumbered with five fouls Jabari Parker continues to show improvement, and it’s a good test to see him take the helm and be the go-to guy on offense.

Continuing his bench role rampage Greg Monroe remains the Bucks best (read: only) center. Coming off the bench and closing out the game is an exhausting task - he averages 7.7 minutes played in fourth quarters this season, a minute and a half more than any other quarter. Meanwhile, John Henson’s disappointing corpse is launching jumpers as the embalming process primes him for a warranted benching and opens the door for a Miles Plumlee resurgence.

Malcolm Brogdon appears to be cementing himself further into the starting point guard position as Matthew Dellavedova’s performance has been somewhat underwhelming while he works his way back after returning from a hamstring injury.

If we see a healthy Giannis, look for the Bucks rotations to go back to normal. Khris Middleton remains out with a hamstring injury, Rashad Vaughn’s ankle injury may keep him at home on the bench and Michael Beasley appears healthy following Sunday’s shin contusion.

Heat Update

With Miami already on Wisconsin sports fans’ minds, the struggling Miami Heat come to Milwaukee with an 11-29 record this season, ranking 14th in the eastern conference, and 1-9 in their last ten games. In a move similar to the Pat Riley-led Heat team that tanked to snag a top pick that wound up being Michael Beasley, 2016-2017 appears to be in a similar calculated free fall to secure a top pick in impending loaded draft class. That didn’t prevent the Bucks from getting thwomped earlier this season by the Heat though, 73-96 in Miami.

These two teams look different now compared to two months ago when they first met. The Heat still have Goran Dragic (averaging 19 ppg and 6.5 assists) to lead their offense and Hassan Whiteside (17.5 ppg, 14.4 rpg and 2.2 blkpg) down low to terrorize the boards and the Bucks center rotation - Whiteside had 17 rebounds in the first matchup.

Betting on himself after a successful playoff run with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, Dion Waiters is working his way back after an injury kept him out for 20 games but hasn’t scored in double digits in his first four games back. Waiters scored a game-high 23 in their first matchup, and he remains unafraid to launch at will following 17 shots in 38 minutes in Tuesday’s loss to the Warriors. Don’t be surprised if Waiters gets some buckets when they desperately need one.

Erik Spoelstra’s team remains competitive on the defensive end, but their offense ranks second to last in the Association. They average 5.7 blocks per game, fifth in the league, behind Whiteside’s 7-foot frame.

Udonis Haslem didn’t play in Tuesday’s game as he recovers from an illness (no tzatziki IV for you Udonis!). Shooting guard Josh Richardson is listed as doubtful with a foot injury, Willie Reed is questionable. Josh McRoberts is out indefinitely with a stress reaction in his left foot, and their second-year star Justise Winslow is out for the rest of the season after shoulder surgery (probably because he touched the ball). Sadly, Chris Bosh is out indefinitely with his persistent blood clotting issue.