The Milwaukee Bucks are no longer considered the odds on favorite to represent the East in the NBA Finals. Not with the “The Big Three” making waves in Brooklyn and each of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving all healthy entering the second season. That however could prove to be just the boost Giannis Antetokounmpo and the No. 3 seed Bucks will need to give them that extra jolt when needed most. Their first round opponent comes in the form of the reigning Eastern Conference champs in a Miami Heat outfit that’s been forced to play without key players all season. That could once again be the case in the series opener with Jimmy Butler still dealing with a lower-back injury that kept him out of Miami’s final two games. Milwaukee won the regular season rivalry by taking two of the three overall matchups both SU and ATS, and it’ll be out to avenge last year’s playoff defeat after falling to the Heat in five games in the conference semis.
This first round bout is set to go down live on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Tip-off is set to go from the Fiserv Forum with the game broadcast live on ESPN. We'll have NBA odds available at BookMaker.eu for this and every game of Saturday’s NBA Playoffs slate.
NBA Betting Lines at BookMaker.eu
Miami Heat +4.5
Milwaukee Bucks -4.5
The number to beat initially hit the board with the home based Bucks installed 6-point favorites and the total lined at 228. With the under cashing in each of the last two regular season meetings and an average of 228.5 points scored, it comes with little surprise to see the O/U down a point with playoff intensity likely to be a factor at the defensive end of the court. Miami saw its 34 played road games play even against the total (17-17), while the Bucks saw the over cash in 22 of their 35 played home games. Milwaukee was pretty solid playing in front of its homebased cardboard cutouts in winning 25 of 35 games, but it only managed to go 17-18 against the closing NBA odds in those matchups. With that, the betting public has leaned Miami plus the points in the series opener with the number to beat down to -4.5. Also aiding the drastic shift is the Heat’s 18-16 ATS record on the road. That said, it only went 6-8 ATS when catching points.
Successive wins on the road against the Boston Celtics ultimately allowed Miami to secure the No. 6 overall seed and avoid the play-in round. From there, the team went on to win two of its final three games both SU and ATS. Included in the mix were wins and covers against the Philadelphia 76ers at home (106-94) and Detroit Pistons on the road (120-107). The lone defeat however came in the form of a 122-108 loss and non-cover against the same Bucks team they’re set to lock horns with in an extended series. Butler didn’t suit up for that one and Miami’s offense struggled because of it in shooting 42 percent from the field. If not for an insane 45 percent success rate from beyond the arc, they would’ve gotten their doors blown off!
Milwaukee made a run at the No. 2 seed in the first week of May when it logged back-to-back wins and covers against the Nets at home as short favorites, but it ultimately didn’t come to pass. Honestly, that could turn out to be a blessing in disguise since the Washington Wizards could end up being one of the better No. 7 seeds to qualify for the second season should they ultimately get the best of the Celtics on Tuesday night. Regardless, Milwaukee enters the playoffs with a head of steam having rattled off wins in eight of its last 10 games. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out at the betting window with the team only covering four times. The Bucks have been as mediocre as can be in the home favorite role managing to split each of their last 20 games.
Miami vs. Milwaukee Prediction
I’ll never forget the look on the Greek Freak’s face once the series with the Heat came to a bitter end and the Bucks were made quick work of in the bubble last season. I said back then that I’d relish the opportunity of backing arguably the league’s best player in a revenge spot, and wouldn’t ya know it here we are. I get that Milwaukee has sucked as home chalk, but that won’t prevent me from loading up in the series opener. The fact that the betting public looks to be enamored with the Heat is the cherry on top. So long as the Bucks wretched 3-point defense doesn’t get destroyed, I foresee Milwaukee running away with the series opener to make the early steam favoring Miami look very foolish.
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