The first round of the NBA Playoffs features a revenge series in the Eastern Conference between Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler. The Miami Heat upset the Milwaukee Bucks in five games last postseason, and the two teams meet again in the postseason when the #3 Bucks host the #6 Heat in a seven-game series.
The Miami Heat are underdogs to win the opening-round series at +235 odds, according to DraftKings’ NBA series lines. The Bucks are the favorites to beat the Heat and win the series at -315 odds.
|NBA Playoffs – Series Odds|
|#6 Miami Heat (40-32) vs #3 Milwaukee Bucks (46-26)|
|Miami Heat +235||Milwaukee Bucks -315|
|Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks – Series Score|
|Bucks win 4-0||+650|
|Bucks win 4-1||+275|
|Bucks win 4-2||+400|
|Bucks win 4-3||+350|
|Heat win 4-0||+4000|
|Heat win 4-1||+1600|
|Heat win 4-2||+700|
|Heat win 4-3||+750|
The Bucks are favorites to lock up the series in five games. You can back the Bucks at +275 odds to defeat the Heat 4-1 in their series.
When you bet series score in the NBA playoffs, the value often lies with the underdog winning in six or seven games. If you think the Greek Freak and the Bucks will wilt against Jimmy Buckets and the Heat once again this year, then you’re getting great value at +700 odds to win the series in six games or +750 odds to win the series in seven games.
Betting the Bucks and Heat
The Game 1 line opened with the Bucks a -5 favorite as the home team hosting the Heat. The total was set for 227 o/u.
The Bucks are the fifth-worst betting team in the league with a 32-40 ATS record. The Heat also struggled to beat the spread with a 34-36-2 ATS record. The Bucks were kind to totals bettors with a fifth-best record in the NBA, hitting the over at a 41-30-1 clip. The Heat went over more often than under with a 38-34 over record.
The Bucks are +800 odds to win the 2021 NBA Championship, while the Heat are +3000 odds, according to DraftKings.
If you want to bet the Eastern Conference champion, the Bucks were the third-highest favorite on the NBA futures board at +325 odds to win the East, trailing behind both the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets. The Heat are long shots at +1200 odds to ship the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks: Redemption time
The Bucks made some key adjustments this season with their eye on the NBA Finals and a championship. In the previous two seasons, the Bucks were built to dominate the regular season. And they did that with the NBA’s best record both times. However, they were bounced from the playoffs much earlier than they wanted in both 2019 and 2020.
The Bucks figured out what they need to do to thrive in the postseason. That’s why they acquired the NBA’s premier two-way man, Jrue Holiday. Holiday provides the Bucks with a shut-down defender and a secondary scoring option.
The Bucks tightened up their defense and began switching more on picks and screens. They added veteran PJ Tucker shortly before the trade deadline to bolster their bench and frontcourt. Tucker will provide tough perimeter defense and 3-point shooting, which the Bucks lacked last postseason.
Head coach Mike Budenholzer’s job is on the line. Rumors from Beer City say the Bucks will fire Budenholzer if he doesn’t deliver an Eastern Conference title and a trip to the NBA Finals. It’s not like he needed any extra pressure to succeed, but Budenholzer’s postseason record has been unimpressive with back-to-back early exits.
The Greek Freak disappeared in the previous two postseasons, even though he earned MVP honors in both regular seasons. Antetokounmpo twisted his ankle and missed Game 5 of last year’s elimination game against the Heat. This season, he’s on a specific mission to prove his worth as one of the NBA’s superstars. But unless he can prove he can win in the postseason, old-school pros won’t respect Antetokounmpo as an elite player.
Miami Heat: Real season begins
Head coach Erik Spoelstra has a career postseason record of 85-54 with back-to-back titles thanks to LeBron James. But that was nearly a decade ago. Since LeBron’s departure from South Beach, Spoelstra went only 22-18 in the postseason.
Spoelstra and Jimmy Butler nearly pulled off a magical run as last year’s Cinderella story in the NBA Bubble. If Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo didn’t get injured heading into the NBA Finals, the Heat could have knocked off the LA Lakers to win the 2020 championship. Alas, the Heat ran out of gas, and LeBron and the Lakers hoisted the championship banner.
You can’t overlook the Heat once again. They got off to a slow start due to a short turnaround time between seasons, but they’re a dangerous #6 seed and love to play defense. The Bucks upgraded their outside shooting, but closing out on 3-point shooters will be the key to winning this series. The Heat allowed opponents to connect on 35% of their 3-point attempts.
Whoever shoots better and defends the trey better will have the inside track to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bucks were the second-worst team in the NBA defending the 3-point shot at 38.4%. If the Bucks don’t slow down Duncan Robinson (40.8%), Kendrick Nunn (38.1%), Goran Dragic (37.3%), and Tyler Herro (36%), it’s going to be another short series.
The Heat lost Victor Oladipo to a season-ending surgery, but they didn’t have him last season and went all the way to the NBA Finals.
Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.