The Miami Heat have been waiting for this year’s “Second” Season to begin for a while, they started the year having trouble focusing as they stumbled out of the gate. As the season progressed, Miami started to focus and raised their level of play. Miami found something to hold their attention in February, they went on a 27 game Win Streak that began in Toronto. The streak was busted by the “Streak Busters” aka the Chicago Bulls, Miami then went on to win 10 out of the next 11 games. During that stretch, Miami used many different line-ups as multiple players sat out games to essentialy rest up for the playoffs. Miami closed the regular season on an 8 game Win Streak, their record at 66-16.
The Bucks have stumbled into the Playoffs, winning just 3 of their last 10 games in the regular season. Milwaukee is led by their talented yet mecurial backcourt duo of Brandon Jennings & Monta Ellis. As if that weren’t enough, the Bucks acquired guard J.J. Redick in a deal at the Trade Deadline involving young forward Tobias Harris. While they boast plenty of fire power offensively; the Bucks as a team have struggled to defend, as they are 20th in the league in points allowed. Milwaukee has struggled to find a consistent level of play, the good news is the slate is wiped clean to start the Playoffs.
KEYS For Milwaukee to Win the Series
- Rebound the Basketball: Bucks were 5th in Rebounding with 44 a game. Miami finished 30th in rebounding the basketball with 38 a game. Bucks can make a living on second chance points if they hit the glass hard.
- Take away Miami’s Supporting Cast, Specifically the Shooters. Miami has 4 players shooting 40% or better from 3 (Battier, Allen, Miller, Chalmers)
- Take their time on offense, work for good shots, don’t settle
- Don’t Turn the Ball over, Miami is lethal in transition
- Force LeBron James to be a scorer, he is far more dangerous as a passer. He does a great job exploiting holes in a defense because he can see over the top of it.
- Keep Wade out of the Paint, Dwayne does most of his damage moving OFF the ball. He is also dangerous in the post, the goal is to get him to settle for jump shots
- Protect the rim, Miami has had trouble in the past with teams that protect the rim well
- Larry Sanders must avoid foul trouble, best shot blocker/rim protector. Averaged 2.83 Blocks a game
- X Factor is John Henson. Henson is long and wiry like Sanders, he has had several big games this season. He might be relied on if Sanders gets in foul trouble or he can provide another presence on the glass to tip the scale in Milwaukee’s favor
- Movement on offense, Miami’s offense is at it’s best when the ball doesn’t stop moving
- Continue to take high percentage shots. James,Wade, and Bosh are all shooting 50% or better from the floor this season
- Must be Locked in defensively, Milwaukee can score and often in bunches. Bucks were 12th in the league in points per game with 98.9
- Miami is 30th in Rebounding, must limit Milwaukee’s second chance points. Limit the Bucks to 1 shot a possession
- Get out and run, this is what Miami does best. Play great defense and turn them into transition baskets
- Protect the ball, Jennings & Ellis average at least 1 steal a game. Jennings with 1.56 and Ellis with 2.06 steals a game
- Get Chris Bosh going offensively, Bosh can draw Sanders away from the basket or make him pay for not leaving the rim with the midrange jumper
- Force Jennings to drive and force Ellis to take jump shots
- X Factor is Mario Chalmers/Norris Cole. The Point Guard duo will have to do a good job forcing Brandon Jennings into tough shots, take care of the ball, and get back on defense to prevent easy transition opportunities for Milwaukee. On the offensive side, their ability knock down the open jump shots will be huge for Miami considering the defensive attention given to the “Big 3”
Miami will come out focused and engaged on both ends of the floor to win this series. Milwaukee may be able to win a game, can’t knock out the possibility of one game when all of their guards have their shots falling. We will see a different Miami team than we saw during the regular season, even different from the team that won 27 games in the row. In short, Miami will be moving on to the next round powered by the strength of their “Big 3.”
Written by Wilson Tarpeh Jr.