Dec 29, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy (17) drives for the basket in front of Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) during the fourth quarter at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks won 104-85. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Playoff Preview: Bucks vs. Heat, Game 1


The Bucks are going to need a bit of luck to pull out a series over the Heat. They will need Larry Sanders to stay out of foul trouble. They need the Heat three-point shooters to go cold. They need Sanders, Luc Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, and Brandon Jennings to be healthy. (All should play, but keep an eye on their effectiveness with their respective back/knee/wrist/ankle injuries).

Sensing a trend? They need a lot.

One X-factor for the Bucks is John Henson. The one area where the Bucks may have an advantage over the Heat is in offensive rebounding. Henson played nicely in an overtime loss to the Heat in November, scoring 17 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. He was simply longer and higher than the Heat frontcourt. But the Heat added Chris Andersen later in the season. It’s understandable that Eric Spoelstra begged Pat Riley to add him. Andersen’s combination of energy, quickness, and size will likely negate most of the one edge the Bucks used to have.

Another reason the Bucks have trouble with the Heat is that when Chris Bosh plays at center, he pulls their shot-blockers, notably Sanders, away from the hoop.

The Heat ended their season winning 37 of their last 39 games. The Bucks ended theirs winning 4 of their last 16.

There’s a reason Vegas has 500 to 1 odds on the Bucks winning the NBA title.

Some Numbers

Offense Four Factors Defense Four Factors
2 Miami Heat* 7.87 112.3 103.7 90.7 .552 13.7 22.2 .224 .487 14.8 73.0 .200
18 Milwaukee Bucks* -1.50 103.6 105.2 94.7 .476 12.7 27.9 .174 .492 14.4 71.3 .201

There aren’t a whole lot of week spots here.  In fact, there’s a lot of balance.  The two teams are even in a lot of categories — as odd as that may seem.  The Bucks are better at grabbing offensive rebounds.  The Heat are better at getting to the free throw line and monumentally better at making shots.


The Heat generate so many points through LeBron James kicking out the ball to shooters.  Milwaukee needs to simultaneously 1) clutter the paint enough to discourage James and Wade, 2) bother Chris Bosh’s midrange game, and 3) challenge Miami’s three-point shooters in the corner.  If they do that, they might win. Sounds easy enough, but no one has done it regularly this season.

A Mixup

“They’re one of the best offensive teams in the league, especially having superstars like Kobe, sorry, LeBron James.”  — Ersan Ilyasova

Tags: Lebron James Miami Heat Milwaukee Bucks Monta Ellis

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