3 things to watch for the Milwaukee Bucks in critical game vs Miami Heat

MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 21: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 21: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler
MIAMI, FLORIDA – MAY 27 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

In what has been a very weird and uneven homestand for the Milwaukee Bucks, it comes to a close tonight against the number one seed in the East, the Miami Heat.

After a couple of lackadaisical performances on either side of the All-Star break, the Bucks responded by whooping the Charlotte Hornets (who were on the second night of a back-to-back) and looked much more like the team we’ve come to expect.

This also marks the start of a tough three-game stretch where they play the Heat, visit the Chicago Bulls, and then host the Phoenix Suns. Milwaukee has lost two of its three games with Miami this season and a win tonight would very much help them in regards to potential tiebreaker scenarios.

How much time will Giannis Antetokounmpo spend on Jimmy Butler?

Although both teams may not be at completely full strength (Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, George Hill are all out, Kyle Lowry missed Miami’s last game), this will still be a much better indication of how these teams match up than the previous three games where one team or the other was severely shorthanded.

This will only be the second game that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler play against each other this season after Antetokounmpo shut down Butler in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

Putting Antetokounmpo on Butler in that series, sagging off of him to take away his drives and not foul, essentially daring him to shoot, was one of the biggest adjustments that head coach Mike Budenholzer made in that series.

We didn’t get to see much of that in the first game this season. Antetokounmpo guarded Butler for a little over a minute and didn’t attempt a shot in that span (he did have an assist), per NBA.com/stats.

Some of that would have to do with how shorthanded the Bucks were with their bigs as Antetokounmpo was tasked with guarding Bam Adebayo more often. I don’t know how much Budenholzer will want to have Bobby Portis on Adebayo, but this will certainly be a matchup to look out for when the Heat have the ball.