The Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat tangle for the final time of the regular season and the two teams are trending in opposite directions. Milwaukee has won seven of their last eight by an average margin of 12 points and find themselves in fourth place in the East. Miami has lost five straight games by an average razor thin margin of four points. The losses have plummeted Miami from fourth to seventh place in the East. The last time the Heat played in a game decided by double-digits was when they beat the Bucks by 18 on January 14th in Miami.
Milwaukee finds themselves right in the thick of the battle for the third seed with the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bucks have also set themselves up nicely to challenge for their first division title since the 2000/01 season. After an ugly Friday night performance against the New York Knicks, Khris Middleton has rebounded in his last two games, averaging 18 points on 57.7 percent shooting all while posting a +44 net rating. Speaking of high net ratings, half-man half-deltoid, Eric Bledsoe, posted a +31 rating against the Knicks on Tuesday night while dropping 23 points on 63.6 percent shooting. Giannis Antetokounmpo has recorded a double-double in four of his last five games and oh yeah, he reverberated around the internet again:
Player to Watch: Tony Snell
Whenever a team is streaking, there is always a player that is struggling. Snell has been that player for the Bucks. The starting wing has not recorded a double-digit scoring performance in any of his last four games. That four game run matches the most consecutive games he has gone between double-digit scoring outputs. Snell has put up zero points in back-to-back starts and is shooting a less than stellar 18.2 percent from three-point range during this four game stretch. As they say, shooters shoot, and hopefully Tony can shoot himself out of his funk and progress to the mean.
Last time Miami hit the court, they were wearing their fantastic “Miami Vice” uniforms and holding a fourth quarter lead over the Houston Rockets. They ended up losing for their fifth straight loss. The Heat made a pair of moves during the trade deadline that brought back former players. Luke Babbitt is headed back to South Beach after starting the year with the Atlanta Hawks, and Heat legend, Dwyane Wade, will likely end his career in Miami after being shipped out of Cleveland. Miami has won four straight games against Milwaukee and their two victories this season have come by a combined 23 points.
Player to Watch: Goran Dragic
The All-Star guard has recorded two 30+ point performance in his last three games. Dragic has been a bright spot for the ailing Heat, averaging 20 points on 48.8 percent shooting during Miami’s five game slide. The Slovenian national has gone 5/9 from three-point range against Milwaukee this season and put up a 25 point performance in the January 14th victory. With the Bucks switching head coaches since these two teams last met, it will be interesting to see if Dragic benefits from open looks off of Milwaukee blitzes like has in the previous two meetings.