Bucks 6.5-Point Favorites vs Heat in Opening Odds for Game 1 of Eastern Conference Semifinal

Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic talking on court

The Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks kick off their Round 2 series on Monday. Photo from @HeatNationCom (Twitter).
  • Bucks and Heat play Game 1 of their second round playoff series on Monday
  • Miami swept Pacers in Round 1, while Milwaukee dispatched the Magic in five games
  • See the odds, our analysis and best bets for Game 1 below

It’s down to the cream of the crop in the NBA’s Eastern Conference playoff bracket. While the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics get underway Sunday, the Milwaukee Bucks will face off the Miami Heat with Game 1 of their Second Round series Monday.

After a sluggish start to the postseason, the Bucks cruised past the Orlando Magic, while the Heat swept the Pacers.

Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks Game 1 Odds

Team Spread at FanDuel Moneyline Total
Miami Heat +6.5 (-110) +220 N/A
Milwaukee Bucks -6.5 (-110) -270 N/A

Odds taken Aug 29th. Tip-off is 6:40pm ET

The top-seeded Bucks have the league’s best record, boasting the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year and soon-to-be-named MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo. And despite being the only team to beat the Bucks twice in the regular season, the Heat vs Bucks odds aren’t giving Miami much love in Game 1.

Giannis Will Need Help

At this point, you can almost pencil in Antetokounmpo for 30+ points, 15+ boards and five assists per game, in an obscene 32 minutes of play. It’s what he averaged against Orlando, and an increase on what he’s been doing in the regular season.

But the knock on Milwaukee isn’t that Giannis can’t deliver — it’s that his supporting cast can’t carry their weight. It’s a distinction that can only be solved with winning in the playoffs.

Thankfully, after a brutal opening three games against Orlando, all-star Khris Middleton found his form in Games 4 and 5. After going 12-for-37 (32.4%) and averaging just 11 points a contest, Middleton upped that his totals to 21.0 points per game on a more respectable 40% from the field, while going 7-for-15 from three-point range.

And while the Bucks allow Giannis to roam the paint and dot the perimeter with shooters, this also may be a chance to feature Brook Lopez a little bit more, and perhaps down low.

Lopez averaged 13.4 points and 4.4 rebounds on a tidy 52.5% from the field against the Magic, including a 38.1% clip from deep. With a size advantage against the Heat, we’ll see how much the Bucks are willing to diversify in Game 1.

Miami Humming Into Round 2

Miami got just the right amount of challenge you want in a first round series against the depleted Pacers. The Heat were mostly in control of each game, and finished with a flurry to close out each win.

They feature something the Bucks didn’t have to worry about with the Magic: a team that can attack with a number of shot creators and shot makers.

It’s the reason the Heat have success against Milwaukee this season. In their two wins, they averaged 117.3 points a game and averaged 18 three-point hits at a sparking 43% clip.

The re-emergence of Goran Dragic to his all-star self has been a boon for the Heat. Dragic led Miami in scoring in Round 1, averaging 22.8 points and five assists. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro each averaged better than 15 points per game against Indiana.

Defensively, head coach Erik Spoelstra will have several bodies to throw at Giannis, including ageless wonder Andre Iguodala and lanky wing Derrick Jones, but expect them to use a team pack-the-paint formula and force the Bucks to hit some shots.

What’s the Best Bet?

Perhaps the best weapon in this series is mindset. Milwaukee bounced back nicely after a bad loss in Game 1, but we’re about to find out how their psyche holds up against a team that exudes confidence and no fear of any opponent.

I think Milwaukee will need to adjust to a level of intensity an inferior opponent couldn’t provide them in the previous round. Miami’s ability to puncture their defense with dribble penetration and smart passing should create open shots across the perimeter.

Bet on them getting the jump on the Bucks.

The pick: Heat +6.5 (-110)

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