Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Heat-Bucks Preview: Banged-Up Heat Roll Into Milwaukee

LeBron James may not be the MVP this season, but he’ll be a handful for a Bucks team seeking its first back-to-back victories of the season.

Who’s playing?

The Miami Heat (49-22) and the Milwaukee Bucks (14-58).

Where are they playing?

The BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

When are they playing?

Saturday, March 29. 7:30 PM ET.

What’s at stake?

Milwaukee’s lead over Philadelphia for the worst record in the league shrunk to one game with Thursday’s win over the Lakers. The Sixers host the Pistons on Saturday bidding to become the first professional sports team in North America to drop 27 straight contests.

Miami is just two games back of Indiana in the Eastern Conference after the Pacers fell to Washington on Friday night. Whether the Heat care about garnering the one seed is a different story, but with one final matchup with Indiana looming in two weeks, it’s certainly within reach.

Did the Heat win their last game?

Miami lambasted Detroit 110-78 on Friday behind 17 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists from LeBron James in three quarters. The Heat held Detroit to 38.0 percent shooting while connecting on 54.4 percent of their own looks.

Did the Bucks win their last game?

They did, in fact – a 108-105 victory over the Lakers on Thursday. It was the second win over Los Angeles this season, snapping an eight-game skid – the third of at least as many games this season. Brandon Knight led the way with 30 points and Ramon Sessions chipped in 22 points (11-14 FT).

Who’s their best player?

This guy.

Who’s hot for the Bucks?

Brandon Knight got back on track Thursday, but Ramon Sessions has strung together a spree of impressive performances. He’s scored at least 13 points in each of the last seven games (this is a big deal for a Bucks player) and averaged 25.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds over the past two games.

What’s the key matchup?

LeBron James versus whoever is guarding LeBron James.

Like every team in the NBA, the Bucks lack an ideal defender to combat James’ unprecedented combination of strength, size and quickness. Khris Middleton will likely get the assignment to begin the game, and with Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle) questionable, Middleton could spend much of the night matched up with James.

What’s the injury situation?

Ray Allen (illness) is doubtful; Dwyane Wade (hamstring) and Mario Chalmers (thigh) are questionable for Miami.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle) and O.J. Mayo are questionable. Ersan Ilyasova (ankle), Larry Sanders (face) and Carlos Delfino (leg) are out for Milwaukee.

What happened last time?

LeBron James (33 points) led the Heat to a 118-95 victory on November 12 in Miami.

When do they meet again?

The Bucks head to Miami on Wednesday for the final of three meetings between the two teams this season.

Projected starters

Heat

C – Greg Oden (questionable)

PF – Chris Bosh

SF – LeBron James

SG – Dwyane Wade (questionable)

PG – Mario Chalmers (questionable)

Bucks

C – Zaza Pachulia

PF – Jeff Adrien

SF – Khris Middleton

SG – Ramon Sessions

PG – Brandon Knight

Team rankings

Heat

Scoring: 11th (103.2)

Scoring defense: 7th (98.0)

Rebounding: 30th (36.8)

Assists: 10th (23.0)

Bucks

Scoring: 28th (95.4)

Scoring defense: 25th (103.5)

Rebounding: 23rd (41.1)

Assists: 16th (21.5)

Leaders

Points: Knight (17.6), James (26.9)

Assists: Knight (4.9), James (6.5)

Rebounds: Henson (7.3), James (6.9)

Blocks: Henson (1.8), Andersen (1.4)

PER: Adrien/Henson (20.8), James (29.3)

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