Despite a rather disappointing regular season, the Miami Heat managed to get into the 2023 NBA Playoffs by the skin of their teeth, beating the Chicago Bulls in the Play-In Tournament on Friday evening at Kiseya Arena. That now sets up a first-round date with the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, who just so happen to be the NBA Finals favorite, too. Below, we’ll discuss some Heat bold predictions for this Bucks series.
Miami split the season series with Milwaukee, winning both meetings at home but losing the other two on the road. While Erik Spoelstra’s squad is the ultimate underdog in this series, they also cannot be underestimated due to the postseason experience across the roster.
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3. Max Strus proves to be the Heat’s best shooter in series
Max Strus went nuclear on Friday, erupting for a mind-boggling 31 points to match Jimmy Buckets, going 7 for 12 from three-point land. Strus is a legitimate sniper from long range and with practically no one else on this team shooting the ball well right now, the 27-year-old will prove his worth in the first round.
The Bucks do a tremendous job of limiting the damage from beyond the arc, holding opponents to a 35.4% clip. While there is a lack of consistency throughout the Heat rotation when it comes to draining the triple, Strus can be relied on. Expect him to keep chucking up those treys and doing all he can to help Miami make this series competitive.
2. Jimmy Butler averages 25+ points in the series
Do you remember how well Butler played in the 2022 playoffs? The veteran averaged 27.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists en route to taking the Celtics to seven games in the East Finals. Yes, the Heat isn’t the same well-rounded team as last year, but Jimmy Buckets still steps up when the lights shine brightest.
Just look at Friday. Butler knew Miami needed him to have a big game in order to advance and he delivered, pouring in 31 points on 11 for 24 shooting from the field. Yes, the Bucks are truly elite defensively and he’s only averaged 16 points per game in his career against Milwaukee, but that won’t stop Butler from keeping the Heat in this series. Plus, he put up 22 PPG in 2022-23 against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co. Playoff Jimmy will show up and show out.
1. Heat lose in six games
If we’re being realistic, Miami won’t win this series. The Bucks are a legitimate force on both ends and have arguably the most dominant player in the NBA in The Greek Freak. That being said, the Heat will at least give their opponents a run for their money. The atmosphere at Fiserv Forum will prove to be too much for Spoelstra’s group but they will bounce back at home.
Also, we can’t forget revenge is still on Miami’s minds after getting swept by the Bucks in the 2022 playoffs. That stings to this day, especially for guys like Bam Adebayo and Butler. The Heat has been waiting for the chance to face Milwaukee again.
Pushing this Eastern Conference quarterfinal to six games is very much possible. Miami is a much better team at home (27-14 record) as opposed to on the road (17-24). Expect them to take advantage in South Beach and give the Bucks a scare.
In the end, though, the title favorites will move on and continue their pursuit of another ring.
The post 3 bold Heat predictions for 2023 NBA Playoffs vs. Bucks appeared first on ClutchPoints.