Looking to make it three straight on the second night of a back-to-back, the Milwaukee Bucks host their playoff nemesis on Tuesday night: the Miami Heat, though without Jimmy Butler. This will be the last of three regular season matchups these two teams play this year, and the Bucks hold the tiebreaker having won the first couple. Could come in handy.
Where We’re At
Last night felt like a validation of the many positive steps we’ve seen the Bucks make under Doc Rivers, dismantling the defending champs with a suddenly impressive defense. Holding the battered Charlotte Hornets to 84 is one thing, but keeping a Nikola Jokic-led team under 100 is another, even when two of Denver’s starters left midway through. Prior to Friday, the only time the Bucks had held an opponent under 100 points came against those same Hornets back in November, and even then just by a point. The last time the Bucks did it in consecutive games was in late 2021.
Not unlike last year, it’s been an up-and-down regular season for the Heat. They’re only a couple weeks removed from breaking a seven-game losing streak that dropped them close to .500, and they fell to East-leading Boston on Sunday afternoon as their late comeback fell just short while missing Butler. More significantly, they lost new acquisition (and one-time Milwaukee playoff tormentor) Terry Rozier and key reserve Josh Richardson to injury in that one. Before that, they took a pair over Orlando and San Antonio. They’ll have to rely on All-Star reserve Bam Adebayo and Whitnall High School graduate Tyler Herro to keep competitive with an opponent that’s starting to come together.
We won’t know until later in the day who is on the Bucks’ injury report because teams coming off a back-to-back don’t need to submit by the usual 5 PM the day before. That being said, both Giannis Antetokounmpo (right patellar tendinitis) and Damian Lillard (left ankle sprain) were probable last night and looked just fine. Thanasis was sick over the weekend and also played, so though these three might be on the injury report, they’ll probably all be available. Khris Middleton will certainly remain out with his left ankle sprain.
Butler is away from the team after a recent death in the family and is already listed as out, alongside Rozier (right knee sprain) and Richardson (dislocated right shoulder). Duncan Robinson is questionable with a left elbow sprain and deep bench guard Dru Smith is out for the year after tearing his ACL in November.
Player To Watch
The last time these two teams faced off just after Thanksgiving, Butler and Herro were both out, so it was the Adebayo show. He’ll get help from Herro this time, who is averaging 19 PPG over the past month on .440/.395/.765 shooting. With Kyle Lowry now gone, Butler away, and Rozier hurt, Herro will have to run the offense while also being their primary perimeter scorer; a lot to handle. In eleven games Butler has missed, Herro has averaged 19.8 PPG and 4.4 APG, good for over a point worse and about the same as his season averages, respectively.
How To Watch
Bally Sports WI at 7:00 PM CST.
Game 55: against the Heat, 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)