In Eastern Conference action on Monday, the #5 Miami Heat have a chance to sweep the #4 Indiana Pacers. One more win for Jimmy Butler and the Heat, and they’ll advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. After losing the opening game of their playoff series, Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo led the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks to back-to-back wins to take a 2-1 lead over the #8 Orlando Magic.
The Bucks are a big favorite once again. In the first four games, the Magic were underdogs who were getting 12 to 13 points. In Game 4, the Bucks are -13.5 favorites.
The Pacers would love to save face and avoid a sweep, but history is against them. Teams never rally from 0-3 to win a series in the NBA.
NBA PLAYOFFS LINES 8/24/20
Milwaukee Bucks -13.5 at Orlando Magic (o/u 225.5)
Miami Heat -6 at Indiana Pacers (o/u 216.5)
On the other side of the east bracket, two sweeps were pulled off on Sunday. The #2 Toronto Raptors crushed the #7 Brooklyn Nets to win their series 4-0 and advance to the Eastern Semifinals. The defending champion Raptors will meet the Boston Celtics in the next round.
The #3 Celtics also swept their opponent. The #6 Philadelphia Sixers were knocked out 0-4, and it’s only a matter of time before head coach Brett Brown gets sacked.
Bucks Back in Control
In Game 3, the Milwaukee Bucks jumped out to a 27-point lead at halftime and never looked back. The Bucks exploded for 70 points in the first half, and their defense rose to the occasion. At one point in the second quarter, the stifling Bucks held the frantic Magic scoreless for more than five minutes.
The Greek Freak led all scorers with 35 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists. Khris Middleton finally woke up from a deep slumber, adding 17 points.
“Going into this game, I was telling myself when I get close to the rim or when I get my balance right or I go by a guy, just try to finish strong by the rim,” said the Greek Freak. “I wasn’t thinking about a perfect game at all. I was just trying to focus on my balance and try to finish strong at the rim.”
Game 3 was rather tame aside from a second-quarter dust-up between the Magic’s James Ennis and the Bucks’ Marvin Williams. Both players were ejected.
Nikolic Vucevic scored 20 points in a losing effort. DJ Augustin led the Magic with 24 points off the bench and Terrence Ross added 20 points in garbage time.
Once again, Orlando starters Aaron Gordon and Michael Carter-Williams missed the game due to injuries.
According to a recent update from DraftKings, the Milwaukee Bucks are the favorite to win the championship at +275 odds.
Indiana Temple of Doom, Down 0-3
The Miami Heat took control from the opening tip of Game 3, and the Indiana Pacers never really had a chance. The Heat headed into halftime with an 18-point lead. The Pacers rallied in the third quarter to trim the deficit to only four points. However, the Heat launched a successful counterattack in the fourth quarter to quell the insurgency and secure a 124-115 victory.
Three Heat starters scored 22-plus points. Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 27 points, while Goran Dragic added 24 points and Bam Adebayo chipped in 20.
“We’re never going into any game thinking that we’re going to lose,” Butler said. “We want to win. We know what we’re capable of.”
Indiana’s point guard, Malcolm Brogdon, posted a monstrous game with 34 points and 14 assists. TJ Warren added 23 points, six rebounds, and five steals. Victor Oladipo is still a little rusty from long range (only 3-for-10 from 3-point land), but he added 20 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
“We’re down 0-3, it’s win or go home,” said Pacers coach Nate McMillan. “We’re not dead. We showed this second half what we’re capable of doing, but we’ve got to put together that type of intensity, that type of belief for 48 minutes.”
The Miami Heat saw their NBA championship odds move to +2000 or 20/1 over at DraftKings.