Game four of the Bucks and Heat series is here, with Milwaukee finding themselves in a 2-1 deficit. This is the first time Milwaukee has lost two games in a first-round series since the 2017-18 season, and now they will need to win on the road to even the series. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting a first-half bet in this one.
If there was ever a time for the Bucks’ role players to step up, it would have been game three, but unfortunately for the Milwaukee faithful, that was not the case. The Bucks came out of the gate slow, as they went into halftime down 13 and couldn’t come back from that in the second half, ultimately losing the game 121-99.
The struggles of Brook Lopez in game three, along with other role players, gave the Bucks a NET rating for the game of (-22.4). The good news for Milwaukee is Giannis will be back in action tonight, so the defensive attention that had been placed on the rest of the Bucks starters will ease up a bit, and even with the decrease in usage rate, will likely allow them to play far more efficient games.
Regardless of who did or didn’t play in game three, the Heat deserves credit for putting their regular season behind them and attacking Milwaukee on both ends of the floor. To go from the 25th offensive rating during the regular season to having the best offensive rating out of all playoff teams up to this point at (123.5), all without Tyler Herro, is impressive.
Even if Miami can continue their offensive success, the question for them tonight is how they can slow down Giannis. In the one game the Bucks superstar played in full against Miami this season, he had a triple-double with 35 points. The Bucks also had an efficiency differential that is 8.1 points higher with Giannis on the floor this season, which is a lineup Miami has not had to deal with up to this point.
The Bucks are currently listed at (-3.5) in the first half, and I’ll be backing them for my play. Milwaukee responded in game two of the series by coming out aggressive, and I expect the same type of response tonight, being down in the series and getting their superstar back. Milwaukee was the 4th most profitable ATS team on the road during the regular season, while Miami was the 5th least profitable 1H ATS team when at home.
Even though they’re down in the series, the Bucks have the same exact 1H NET rating as Miami up to this point. Milwaukee has a better first-half rebounding percentage which I’m only expected to be better tonight with Giannis. Even with Miami having a 1H true shooting percentage of 64.1%, the Bucks are right behind them at 62.7%.
Milwaukee has not lost back-to-back games in a first-round series since 2017-18, and I don’t expect them to do so in this series, either. The Bucks showed in game two that they can still knock down the three-ball even with immense pressure on them; well, now they expect cleaner looks from deep with the defense crashing on Giannis. I don’t expect an adjustment from Miami till the second half once they see how Giannis is operating to start the game.
Milwaukee Bucks 1H (-3.5)