Shed no tears for the Miami Heat
. Since losing five in a row back in late February/early March, the Heat have gone 11-2.
Miami has won eight of its last nine games and is battling Boston for the No. 2 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Heat play twice more before hosting the Celtics in a Sunday showdown. Up next for Miami on Wednesday is a visit from Milwaukee. Tip-off is 5:05 p.m. PT with ESPN televising.
Chicago point guard Derrick Rose is generating a lot of MVP buzz. However, a strong case can be made for LeBron James. He’s second in scoring next to Kevin Durant averaging 26.6 points a game, 13th in assists at seven per game and 32nd in rebounding at 7.5 per contest.
James also is No. 1 in plus/minus minutes when on the court, a category Rose currently ranks 10th. James has scored in double figures in 75 consecutive games for Miami, tying Alonzo Mourning for third best in team history.
The Bucks have the No. 3 defense in the NBA, but haven’t been able to stop James in losing all three previous meetings to Miami this season. James is averaging 22.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists against Milwaukee, while also coming up with seven steals, a category he places 12th.
Dealing with injuries the entire season, the Bucks’ playoff hopes are realistically shot trailing Indiana by three games entering Tuesday. Milwaukee lost a huge one-point road game to the Pacers this past Friday. The Bucks, though, came back to defeat Philadelphia, 93-87, at home the next night in overtime as 1 ½-point ‘dogs. The combined 180 points went ‘under’ the 186-point total.
Milwaukee beat the 76ers despite missing Carlos Delfino (rib), Ersan Ilyasova (concussion) and Jon Brockman (shoulder). Star center Andrew Bogut is playing with a painful right elbow and may not last much longer. He’s scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery once the season ends.
Drew Gooden and Michael Redd have returned from extended absences for the Bucks, although Redd has been limited to single-digit minutes since returning from a second major knee surgery on March 28.
The Bucks played at Orlando on Tuesday. The Bucks were 3-0-1 ATS in their past four road matchups entering the Orlando game.
Milwaukee is 5-4 ATS in the second of back-to-back games going back to February. This marks the Bucks’ fourth game in six days.
Entering their Florida trip, the Bucks had gone ‘under’ in 21 of their last 30 games. It’s easy to see why there have been so many ‘unders’ since Milwaukee ranks last in scoring and field goal percentage, while playing outstanding defense.
Brandon Jennings leads the Bucks in scoring averaging 16.1 points per game. By contrast, Miami has James averaging 26.6 points a game, Dwyane Wade putting up 25.7 points per game and Chris Bosh averaging 18.7 points a game.
Wade is questionable for Wednesday's game due to a quad injury sufferend in Sunday's win at New Jersey.
The Bucks have played Miami tight, losing 101-95 in overtime as seven-point home ‘dogs on Jan. 7. The combined 196 points went ‘over’ the 183-point total. James scored 26 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and had six steals.
Just three days earlier, the Heat defeated the Bucks, 101-89, as 9 ½-point home favorites. The combined 190 points went ‘over’ the 182-point total. Wade led Miami with 34 points. The Bucks were missing Jennings, their scoring and assists leader.
Milwaukee trailed Miami by three points midway through the fourth quarter during its first meeting on Dec. 6, before falling 88-78 as five-point home ‘dogs. The combined 166 points went ‘under’ the 183 ½-point total.
The ‘under’ has cashed in six of the last eight meetings between the two clubs.