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January 27, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)

Take Miami Heat at -2 spread against Milwaukee Bucks risking 3%

The Milwaukee Bucks will continue their road trip tonight as they travel to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena.
With the departure of LeBron James in the offseason, the Miami Heat are having a season that many had expected them to have. Not much was expected of this team this year, yet they have continued to put together some quality efforts this season and are starting to build a bit of momentum. Miami comes into this one having won 5 of their last 8 games and are coming off an impressive, upset win over the Chicago Bulls on the road their last time out. Even without LeBron James on the roster, the Heat are still a team full of talented players. Dwyane Wade contributes a team high 21.7 points with a team high 5.4 assists, Chris Bosh is second on the team in scoring, putting up an average of 21.2 points and 7.6 rebounds a game. Luol Deng chips in 14.3 points and 5 rebounds though he's likely to sit out tonight. Mario Chalmers averages 10.7 points and 4.2 assists. The Heat have shown that they can be extremely proficient with the basketball as they are tied for 9th in field goal percentage on the year, making 45.8% of their shots. That win over the Bulls at the United Center was a huge confidence boost for this team and we expect the momentum from that victory to carry over tonight against a Bucks team who appears to be struggling at the moment.

A big reason for the Heat's recent success has been because of their new found defense. Miami has really been cranking up the defensive pressure recently as they’re allowing just 39.6 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent shooting from downtown over their last five games. Miami's defense has allowed 94 or less points in five straight games, which doesn't bode well for a Bucks team who has shown their ability to struggle on the offensive end of the court. The Heat have not been known as much of a rebounding team in the past, but recently Hassan Whiteside has emerged as a true force on the glass. Whiteside adds a completely new dimension to this Miami team and was a key player in the Heat’s victory over Chicago. He is averaging almost 7 boards per game this season, and posted a triple-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocks against the Bulls. The Heat are a different team with him on the floor and we expect another solid effort from him tonight.

The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the surprise teams this season. They have certainly exceeded expectations this season, however recently they have really been struggling to gain any momentum. They have split their last 5 games and the injury bug has really started to hit them hard. It started with an injury to first round pick Jabari Parker, then Larry Sanders was suspended indefinitely. Kendall Marshall recently suffered a season ending ACL injury that will keep him sidelined the rest of the year and last game John Henson rolled his ankle and may miss tonight’s game. For a team that struggles to put points on the board, injuries could play a big part in how this team performs the rest of the season.

While not known for the offense, the Bucks have been sound on the defensive end this season ranking near the top 10 in all defensive categories. Despite having a top 10 defense, they still have problems closing games out. A solid defense will only allow teams to go so far, however it takes offense to win basketball games. They have typically played in low scoring, back and forth contests this season, but without that true go-to player who can take the game over and make those clutch shots at the end of a ball game, it has cost the Bucks at times this season. Against an offensively proficient team like the Heat, with a number of players capable of closing out the game, the Bucks cannot afford to play a close game with this team. 

These two teams have played twice this season already, with Milwaukee winning both contests, including a 91-84 victory in South Beach back on November 16th. Their second meeting wasn't much better for the Heat as the Bucks came away with a 24 point victory in Milwaukee. What we find interesting is that despite the Bucks having won the last two meetings with the most recent being in dominating fashion and the fact that they are the team with the better overall record, that not only did the oddmakers decide to make the Miami Heat the favorites in this contest, but they made them sizable favorites at that. We believe that says something about how they expect this game to play out. There is no doubt that these Miami players remember the most recent meeting and would like nothing more than to pay back the favor to the Bucks tonight. With the line dropping from -4 to -2, that has opened up value on the Heat. We expect Miami to get their revenge and with this spread now being where it's at, they should cover thel spread.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • The Heat are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall.
  • The Heat are 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing at home against Milwaukee.
  • The Bucks are 3-8 ATS in the last 11 meetings overall.
  • The Heat is 3-1-1 ATS in their last five when their opponent allowed at least 100 points in their last game.

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