NBA Playoff Series: Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks
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NBA Playoff Series: Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks

Justin Bales

Welcome to my newest edition of Bales' Best NBA Bets. In this article, I will outline my favorite bet for August 31, 2020. You can also find all of Bet Karma's staff bets through our NBA Premium Package. 


Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks

The Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks will be facing off in a second-round playoff matchup. Miami is coming off of a four-game sweep of the Indiana Pacers, posting an average margin of victory of 10.5 points. Milwaukee defeated the Orlando Magic in 5 games, recording a 14.5 point average margin of victory after the Game 1 upset. 

These teams are very evenly matched in a lot of ways, making the +360 odds a bit surprising. Yes, Milwaukee has the one seed along with the stardom of Giannis Antetokounmpo but Miami has found plenty of success and has a few keys to winning this series. 

The Heat and Bucks have performed nearly the same in effective field goal percentage (eFG%) and opponent eFG% in the playoffs. With that being said, Milwaukee ranks slightly better in each category, although they got what should’ve been an easier overall matchup against Orlando in the first round. These two teams have ranked similarly since entering the bubble overall, though, with Milwaukee slightly edging out Miami. 

Neither team allowed their opponents to get to the line in their first-round matchups. Milwaukee held Orlando to a 23.7% free throw rate while Miami held Indiana to a 25.2% free throw rate. The major difference between the Heat and Bucks is that the former got to the line 36.8% of the time against the Pacers while the later only reached the line 24.8% of the time against Orlando. Indiana held their opponents to a 23.8% free throw rate, second-best in the bubble, prior to the playoffs, suggesting Miami will find ways to get to the line against Milwaukee in this series. 

Both teams were relatively careless with the ball in the playoffs, ranking 11th (Miami) and last (Milwaukee) in turnover percentage. This was no different from when they first entered the bubble, though, as they ranked 15th and 18th in turnover percentage in the play-in games. The key difference is how many turnovers their defenses have forced. In the playoffs, Miami posted a 15.7% opponent turnover rate compared to a 13.9% rate for Milwaukee. The discrepancy in the play-ins games was wider, as the Heat recorded a 16.7% rate compared to the Bucks 11.7% rate. 

These were two of the best teams in the first round of the playoffs in limiting their opponents’ offensive rebounds. That wasn’t the case for Miami in the play-in games but Milwaukee isn’t a team that attacks the offensive boards, so it likely won’t matter anyway. Miami did post a 29% offensive rebounding rate against Indiana but I don’t truly expect them to find much success against Milwaukee and offensive rebounds are likely a wash in this series. 

Overall, I expect Miami to get to the line more and likely have a few more opportunities while Milwaukee will be the more efficient team. There is one key factor that I believe could separate these teams, though. The three-ball. 

The Bucks are a team that is known for stuffing the paint and allowing opponents to shoot threes. Generally, teams see plenty of hot and cold streaks, allowing Milwaukee to capitalize in games. In other words, they want teams to beat them from deep. 

That’s where this matchup favors Miami. They rank second in the NBA on the season, shooting 37.9% from deep. They also shot 39.1% from beyond the arc in the first round. Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro are known as the shooters for Miami, shooting 44.6% and 38.9% from beyond the arc in 2020. With that being said, Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk are also shooting above 40% from deep on the season. Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn are two more players that can hold their own from beyond the arc, as well. 

If the Bucks continue their strategy of allowing opponents to shoot threes, this is going to be a long series for them. The odds are far too wide, and I’ll take my chances on the underdogs pulling off the upset in this series. 

Bet 0.5 units on the Miami Heat to win the series (+360) to win 1.8 units


2020 NBA Season Record - 9-15 (-4.43 units)


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