The Miami Heat are hungry. Fresh off a sweep of the hapless Indiana Pacers and a long break due to protests against police brutality, the team is preparing to play the NBA’s best defensive team, which centers around its best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
A win won’t be easy.
The Heat is a young team without much playoff experience and is sure to suffer some nervousness in the semifinals.
Great performances are expected from star forward Jimmy Butler and rising-star center/power forward Bam Adebayo. Against the Pacers guard Goran Dragic came up with some lights-out shooting, and he can do it again. More questionable are Duncan Robinson, and rookie Tyler Herro, who showed they can dominate the court, but aren’t postseason tested. Herro had 16 points per game and a 45.8 percent field-goal percentage. Robinson had 12 points per game and 46.9 perecent field-goal percentage.
Here are five things this driven Heat team can do to get past the Milwaukee Bucks, the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference. Watch the game tonight on TNT at 6:30 p.m.
Adebayo needs to shut down Giannis
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has scored 30 points per game with 6 assists, and 16 rebounds during the playoffs. Adebayo will likely be asked to guard him.
The last time the Heat played the Bucks, on August 6, this didn’t work out so well. Antetokounmpo sped around the Heat center as if he was standing still. He scored well in the fourth quarter, adding 20 points, while Adebayo almost fouled out.
Adebayo will need to play better defense this series, taking advantage of his athleticism and size to be all over Antetokounmpo. He may need help sometimes from smaller players, but he is the only hope of slowing this Greek freight train.
Duncan Robinson needs to hit a lot of threes
Formerly undrafted free agent Duncan Robinson had among the highest three-point shooting percentages in the NBA. Robinson is a valued player on this Heat team. Antetokounmpo’s three-point percentage was far lower. Robinson is also a better free-throw shooter than the Bucks center.
Kendrick Nunn needs to come back in a big way
Nunn, a rookie-of-the-year candidate, didn’t play much this summer after contracting COVID-19. But in game four against the Pacers, he showed how persistent he is when it comes to scoring. He is an essential player to the Heat even as a rookie.
Nunn needs to be a more consistent shooter. Antetokounmpo is the Bucks’ best defensive player. Nunn is an excellent shooter and the Heat needs him to test the forward.
End the lousy play during the turd quarter
The Heat is known for the “Turd Quarter.” The team dominates during the first and second quarters. Then during the third and fourth, they start to slow down, sometimes letting the opposing teams win. The Heat had a “Turd Quarter” during its August 6 game with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat led by 20 points, but during the fourth quarter, the Heat allowed the Bucks to come back, letting the Bucks win 130 to 116.
For the Heat to prevent fatigue during the semifinals, coach Erick Spoelstra needs to have his all-stars such as Butler and Adebayo play the first quarter. The bench also must have good minutes while the two are resting. Adebayo, who is excellent at blocking Antetokounmpo, needs rest if he is to guard the Greek freak in the last quarter and prevent him from shooting.
Focus more on Andre Iguodala
Veterans win titles. The Heat needs to depend more on Iguodala, who won four championships with the Golden State Warriors. He played great against the Bucks on August 6, scoring 6 points, 4 assists and 8 rebounds in 33 minutes. He is improving on his game during the regular season, scoring only 4 points per game.
With his experience in winning titles, Iguodala is a great benefit to the Heat. He is excellent at free throws, shooting 100 percent. However, he needs to practice more on offense. Iguodala is highly favored upsetting the Bucks due to his experience.