Heat NBA Title Odds Tempting After Game 1 Win Over Bucks
The Miami Heat emerged victorious as 5.5-point underdogs in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. The win shifted Miami’s NBA betting odds to take the series from +360 to +148, and its title odds from +2000 to +1300 at DraftKings (odds vary at different sportsbooks).
It’s a major shift for one win against arguably the best team in the NBA, but Miami also has the look of a team ripe to pull an upset. Here’s why it is worth a look at those NBA futures betting odds against Milwaukee. You can grab Miami at +1300 NBA title odds at DraftKings:
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Heat’s Shooting Counters Bucks Interior
There isn’t a better interior defensive team than the Bucks, who in the regular season allowed opponents to shoot just less than 53% from inside 5 feet. That was the best mark in the NBA by nearly five percentage points. It’s nearly impossible to score inside on Milwaukee with Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo manning the paint.
But the Bucks’ focus on guarding the rim has also meant more opponent 3-point attempts. In fact, the Bucks allowed a league-high 39.3 3-point attempts per game in the regular season. Granted, that was intentional — and Milwaukee led the league in defensive efficiency — but it also means a hot shooting team could give them serious trouble.
That’s where the Heat come in. Miami was second in 3-point field goal percentage in the regular season (37.9%). That number dipped to 34.8% in the eight regular-season games since the restart, it’s back up to 39% in five postseason games. In its Game 1 win, Miami was just 21-of-43 in the paint (48.8%, far worse than its 58% mark in the regular season) but still won. Why? The Heat went 12-for-31 (38.7%) on triples.
Guys like Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Jae Crowder, Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn will keep getting those looks, and if they knock them down, Miami will be tough to beat.
Butler Ready For Spotlight
Is Jimmy Butler this year’s Kawhi Leonard? While that may be getting ahead ourselves, the five-time All-Star certainly looks locked in. In five playoff games, Butler is averaging 23.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists for the 5-0 Heat. He torched Milwaukee’s defense to the tune of 40 points on 20 field goal attempts (making both of his 3s) and controlled the pace of the game when he was on the floor.
He also has been partly responsible for slowing Antetokounmpo (Butler had two steals and a block in Monday’s win), providing elite defense against a Bucks team that hasn’t looked all that good in the bubble. Miami is at its best when Butler is locked in and he looked like the best player on the court in Game 1. If that continues, his teammates will follow.
Butler has all the talent in the world and finally has an excellent supporting cast to complement his strengths. Knocking off Milwaukee will be a tall order, but he certainly appears up to the task.
RELATED: Compare NBA title odds here
Heat Effectively Slowing Antetokounmpo
Jumping to conclusions after one game is unfair, but Miami’s trend of slowing down Antetokounmpo goes a bit deeper. Consider that in four games against the Heat this season, Giannis is averaging just 23.2 points on 54% shooting. In 65 other games, he’s averaging 29.7 points on 55.2% shooting.
Perhaps more importantly, Giannis is averaging 14.5 field goals and 8.8 free throw attempts against Miami compared to 19.8 and 9.9, respectively, against all other opponents.
A combination of different looks in Crowder (small), Butler (quick) and Bam Adebayo (big) is limiting the looks that Antetokounmpo is getting inside. Miami is daring him to shoot from the perimeter. Miami Coach Eric Spoelstra clearly has found something that works and it will be up to Giannis and the Bucks to counter.
The Bucks don’t have a ton of creators outside of Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. That could spell trouble for Milwaukee and spell upset for Miami if the Bucks don’t turn it around quickly.
About the Author
Mark Strotman is a veteran sports journalist who has covered the Chicago Bulls and the NBA for NBC Sports Chicago since 2012. His work has also appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune, Yahoo Sports and NBC Sports. He covered the NBA Playoffs in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 as well as Team USA Basketball in 2014 and 2016. He has also covered high school football and was nominated for a Midwest Emmy in 2016 for his work on a documentary featuring local Chicago product and NFL prospect Miles Boykin. Strotman graduated from Marquette University in 2012 and during his time there reported on the men’s basketball team, covering both the Big East Tournament and NCAA Tournament in 2011 and 2012.