After dismantling inferior opponents in the first round, the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat are primed to deliver one of the most entertaining second-round series this postseason. The Bucks finished atop the Eastern Conference for the second straight season, leading many to believe they are poised for their first Finals appearance since NBA-legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 1974 MVP season.
Out of all their intraconference adversaries, the Heat present one of the most formidable challenges for Milwaukee. While regular-season results hold less merit in playoff matchups, it’s worth noting that Miami was the only team from the East to post a winning record against the Bucks this season. Although the sample size from the regular season was limited to three matchups, those games provided both teams with a blueprint for winning their playoff duel.
Ranking third and sixth respectively in total three-pointers made this year, the Bucks and Heat rely on the long ball for a substantial portion of their offense. The winner of the three-point line will be a significant determining factor in the series’s outcome, but how each team generates its looks from deep will be even more crucial.
The Heat and Bucks have both done outstanding jobs surrounding their superstar players with the right role players to maximize their strengths. Each team has adopted their star player’s playing style, resulting in two teams with opposed basketball ideologies.
For Milwaukee, that means an up-tempo brand of basketball that allows Giannis Antetounkmpo to fly through defenses in transition on his way to the rim. Miami and Jimmy Butler prefer a more methodical pace as they slowly dissect the weaknesses in their opposition. Controlling the pace will be crucial in a battle that pins the fastest team in the NBA in Milwaukee, against the third-slowest, Miami.
The NBA bubble hasn’t been a dream for some players in it, but don’t expect to hear any complaints coming out of the Miami Heat camp.
Veteran forward Udonis Haslem said the team has a “no-complain” rule in the knowledge that time is of the essence and everyone else has to deal with the same challenges as well.
This is probably smart. Some players have gotten bogged down in complaints about the bubble conditions. More recently, though, there has actually been something of a backlash against those complaints as players accept the circumstances.
The Heat sit at 41-24 and are on their way to the playoffs. Still, Haslem is right, and they have to get up to speed quickly if they want to be successful when it really matters.
The NBA is set to return to action at the end of July, and numerous questions pertaining to the logistics of the league’s plan remain. While we are learning the answers to those questions gradually, NBA teams must now question how they will perform when the season does return.
With playoff basketball on the horizon, here are the most critical questions surrounding the championship contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Miami Heat players will have no excuse if they don’t get any shots up during the NBA’s hiatus thanks to Jimmy Butler.
According to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald, Butler had a portable basketball hoop sent to all of his Heat teammates. Goran Dragic had been the only Miami player with a basket at his home prior to Butler’s intervention.
Butler also had hoops sent to coaches, and even players living in condominiums and hotels — including two-way contract players — received them. Butler also plans to donate some portable baskets to area schools and youth centers once the pandemic subsides.
Butler is famously competitive and demands the best of teammates and coaches. Clearly, when he found out that they didn’t have the means to stay sharp during the league’s hiatus, he felt he had to do something. It’s a pretty neat move by the star guard.
The Miami Heat are wheeling and dealing ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline.
The Heat agreed to a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies involving Andre Iguodala, and Iguodala is not the only veteran player that is headed to Miami. The Heat will also get Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added that Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow and James Johnson are heading to Memphis.
Miami was also trying to acquire Danilo Gallinari as part of a three-team trade involving the Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder. That could still happen, but it does not sound likely.
Crowder is averaging 9.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this season, while Hill averaging 5.7 points and 3.0 rebounds. Iguodala has refused to play for Memphis, which recently drew criticism from some of his teammates.
The Miami Heat are working on a three-team deal with the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder that would see them acquire both Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari, but they are determined to protect their salary cap space going forward.
Iguodala has agreed to sign a two-year, $30 million extension with the Heat if the trade is completed, and Miami is still trying to work out an extension for Gallinari. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Heat want to make sure they have enough salary cap space available to sign a max player in 2021.
The Heat are 34-16 and contenders in the Eastern Conference this year, which is why Pat Riley is trying to add experienced role players like Iguodala and Gallinari for the stretch run. However, Riley is wise to make sure he keeps the max slot available for 2021. Jimmy Butler is under contract with the team through the 2021-22 season with a player option for 2022-23. Breakout star Bam Adebayo is still on a rookie deal and is under team control through 2021-22, so it makes sense for the Heat to think long term in addition to trying to win now.
Gallinari is in his first season with the Thunder after being acquired in the Paul George trade. He’s averaged 19.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 42 games for the Thunder. Iguodala has refused to play for the Grizzlies, which has led to criticism from his teammates.
The Andre Iguodala saga looks to be nearing an end, and there may be a surprise winner.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Miami Heat are in “advanced discussions” with the Memphis Grizzlies to land Iguodala in a trade.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports added that the Los Angeles Lakers made a “Hail Mary attempt” to get Iguodala, but the Heat are the clear frontrunners.
The Heat have come out of nowhere in recent days to become a major player in the Iguodala sweepstakes. It was reported earlier Wednesday that they were a “sleeper” in Iguodala talks. Clearly that is bearing itself out.
Iguodala, who has not played this season, would give the Heat a strong wing defender and boost their chances of coming out of the Eastern Conference. They’re currently fourth in the conference with a 34-15 record.
One of the big trade deadline wildcards is the status of Andre Iguodala, and one contender may have a better shot than previously thought.
The Miami Heat, a reported interested suitor for Iguodala, were characterized as a “sleeper team” for the veteran swingman by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Iguodala is currently with the Memphis Grizzlies and has not played this season. It appears likely that it will remain that way unless he gets dealt. That means the pressure is on ahead of Thursday’s deadline to find a place to trade Iguodala that he will approve of. It’s unclear whether the Heat could be that team, as there have been rumors that the veteran swingman would prefer a return to the west coast. With the Heat sitting at 34-15, however, it would be a tempting proposition if he wants to win this year.
Andre Iguodala wants to be traded ahead of Thursday’s deadline, and there is reportedly at least one team that has expressed interest in acquiring the veteran swingman.
The Memphis Grizzlies have had discussions with the Miami Heat about a potential Iguodala trade, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. However, it is unclear if Iguodala will want to play for the Heat, as he may prefer to be traded to a team on the west coast.
The Heat are more of a contender than the Grizzlies, so that may be a factor for Iguodala. He could be a good fit alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo and would give Miami some added depth and experience for the playoffs. Iguodala, 36, won three championships with the Golden State Warriors and was named NBA Finals MVP in 2015.
Iguodala was traded to Memphis by the Warriors last summer in a salary dump move, and he has not played this season essentially out of protest. He has reportedly informed the Grizzlies that he will sit out the remainder of the year if they don’t trade him or buy out his contract, which led to some harsh criticism from his teammates this week.
The Miami Heat have had numerous issues with Dion Waiters this season, but they don’t appear ready to cut ties just yet.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, team president Pat Riley met with Waiters and told the guard that the team still wants Waiters to be with them going forward. Despite Waiters’ frequent transgressions, the Heat have not closed the door on him playing for them again.
Two weeks ago, the Heat suspended Waiters for the third time this season. He also had a bizarre incident on the team plane reportedly relating to an edible. The Heat would be well within their rights to want to move on from him at this point, but Riley and the Heat are trying very hard to stick with him.
Waiters has been a key player for Miami over the last three seasons, averaging 14 points per game over that span. He has yet to play in 2019-20 due to his off-court issues.