As the Milwaukee Bucks start another series down 0-1, all eyes are on Giannis Antetokounmpo and whether he’ll be able to play and help the team even up the series against the Miami Heat 1-1. While he’s listed as doubtful, the team seems optimistic about his chances.
Budenholzer: "I mean, I think if I'm being honest, I think there is an optimism (that Giannis Antetokounmpo will play in Game 2). Time is a little bit on our side, but I think that equation will flip, so yeah, I would say we're optimistic."— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) April 18, 2023
Coming from the typically tight-lipped Bud, that makes me feel pretty darn good.
Where We’re At
The Milwaukee Bucks are probably kicking themselves a bit after coming out off-kilter in Game One. They gave up home court advantage, but they also were coming off a considerable amount of rest. Still, that didn’t stop the Nuggets from dismantling their opponent. For my money, all of the indicators view the last performance as a pretty strong outlier performance from deep on both sides, and if Giannis plays, Milwaukee should feel confident going into this game. Still, these are short series, and the most concerning part to me was the fact their defense looked so lackluster given that’s their must-have side of the floor if they want to win a championship. Let’s hope they’ve cleaned it up.
Miami is playing with house money at this point. They haven’t gelled really all season long and I doubt fans even had much expectations heading into these playoffs. All of a sudden, they’re up 1-0 on the to overall seed and smelling blood in the water with Giannis hurt. Jimmy Butler had his way against each and every defender Bud tried on him in the first contest. They need to find a way to keep him from getting to his spots and clamp down on that end of the floor. Lock up Jimmy, and it’s unlikely anyone else on that team has the creative ability to beat you offensively.
In a sneaky key addition to the injury report, Wes Matthews is out with a right calf strain. He was pretty pivotal to their defensive gameplan on Jimmy, but Milwaukee needs him right if they want a central defender against Boston, so I understand their reticence to have him push it.
Tyler Herro is out for the Heat (and out for the series with that broken hand) while Kyle Lowry is questionable.
Player to Watch
Jae Crowder got his butt kicked defensively by Jimmy Butler in Game One. Milwaukee needs him to be locked in on that side of the floor, communicating switches and generally being physical with a Heat team that lacks speed or creation off the dribble. Toss in some better shooting too, and I’d feel a whole lot better about Horst’s midseason addition for the rest of this series.
Game Two: Against Miami, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)