Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat

 

The Milwaukee Bucks try to avoid their third consecutive road loss of the season in an NBA bubble playoff rematch with the Miami Heat on Tuesday. An embarrassing 130-110 loss to the New York Knicks left Bucks fans scratching their heads on Sunday. They’ll try to pick up the pieces and bounce back against a Heat team coming off their first win of the season over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Bucks embarrassed by the Knicks

There must be something in the water impacting professional sports in New York right now.The New York Jets have suddenly gone from being winless to winning their last two consecutive NFL games. Meanwhile, the New York Knicks, the perennial laughingstock of the NBA, toppled the Bucks with Giannis Antetokounmpo on the floor.

What is Milwaukee doing?

I’m in no way suggesting anyone should hit the panic button. The season has just started, and every team is going to have a few head-scratching losses as they journey through a marathon schedule. But it is a bit shocking to see how passive the Bucks have looked on defense. The Knicks buried them from beyond the arc with 16 3-pointers. That doesn’t bode well going on the road against a Heat team full of long-distance snipers.

The Bucks had the seventh-ranked scoring defense in the league last season. It’s still incredibly early in the year and completely possible for them to get back to that point, but the overall performance on the defensive end of the court hasn’t been up to par.

Khris Middleton has continued to step up his game alongside Antetokounmpo, but he’ll get a major test against a Heat defense that ranks 10th in the league in efficiency. He’s currently leading the team with an average 26.5 points per game. It would be huge to see him continue that effort when facing an elite group of defenders.

Butler doubtful to play

Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra is seemingly erring on the side of caution with Jimmy Butler’s recent ankle injury. The five-time NBA All-Star is expected to miss Tuesday’s game against the Bucks as a precaution while he continues to undergo treatment for ankle soreness. That essentially puts the Heat at the mercy of a vengeful Bucks team looking to get even for last season’s conference semifinals loss in the playoffs.But nothing stops an elite basketball team quicker in their tracks than great 3-point shooting.

The Bucks have been getting lit up from long-distance early in the season with teams averaging 39.3 percent from beyond the arc against them. Go ahead and shine the Batman symbol across the city of Miami for Duncan Robinson. The 26-year-old sniper is an ascending forward capable of making the Bucks pay early and often for giving him space to shoot. That goes without mentioning Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic and Avery Bradley. Even Andre Iguodala is good to turn back the clock every now and then for a little 3-point parade.

That’s the sort of performance the Heat will need to combat a Milwaukee offense averaging 123 points per game.

Butler being out is a blow to the team on both ends of the floor. He was the leading scorer last season, and he’s also a fervent defender. There is no replacing one of the best two-way players in the game, but the Heat have more than enough defensive talent to pick up the slack. Opposing teams are only averaging 44 percent shooting against them in their first two games of the season. Antetokounmpo will have another human freight train in Bam Adebayo waiting on him whenever he attacks the rim.