Bucks vs. Heat NBA Playoffs Game 4 Picks

Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP
Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

The Miami Heat try to avoid a sweep when they host the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 of their first round series on Saturday. Here’s a complete preview, including updated betting odds and NBA picks.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat

Saturday, May 29, 2021 – 01:30 PM EDT at AmericanAirlines Arena

The Heat put up a fight in Game 1, losing 109-107 in overtime but it’s was all Bucks in Games 2 and 3. The Bucks crushed the Heat 132-98 in Game 2 with Giannis Antetokounmpo going off for 31 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals and Bryn Forbes adding 22 points in 20 minutes (making six of his nine 3-point attempts). Game 3 was more of the same and the Bucks prevailed 113-84, moving to a win from a berth in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Six players scored in double figures for Milwaukee, led by Khris Middleton’s 22 points while Jimmy Butler had a team-high 19 points with eight rebounds and six assists for a Heat team that was just 9-for-32 from beyond the arc (28.1 percent).

The Bucks opened as 5-point favorites at Bet365 and over at FiveThirtyEight, they have the Bucks at -1.5. This leaves a 3.5-point gap between the projections and the actual NBA odds. We need at least two points between the projections and the lines before we lay any serious wood. Here we are getting more than enough.

FiveThirtyEight gives the Bucks a 56 percent chance to win. The equivalent moneyline is -127. For support, we turn to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin’s projections; he has the Bucks at -4.07 using his Rating numbers, and at -3.96 using his eigenvector analysis. Is there some room to grab potential betting value with the Heat +5 at BetMGM?

Miami Has to Shoot Way Better

The Bucks have controlled the pace in this series and their swarming defense has led to forced offense from the Heat. Miami has had open looks but the shots are simply not falling. Jimmy Butler did his part in this first half of Game 3 but the rest of the team was a combined 8-for-33 from the field, with Duncan Robinson making zero shots (he was for 1-for-6 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3-point range for two points in 24 minutes overall). The Heat scored just 36 points in the first half, which just won’t win playoff games. They won’t win on Saturday unless they get off to a strong start.

Miami also needs a lot more Trevor Ariza. The team is missing what Jae Crowder brought, particularly in the series against Milwaukee in the bubble last year. It’s obviously unfair to blame Ariza for his performance in these three games, as everyone is struggling, but he gave the Heat pretty good minutes at the end of the regular season and he just hasn’t played to that level in the playoffs.

As for the Bucks, everything is going right for them but I have to signal Jrue Holiday. He makes this team better with his ability to create in the half court and close a quarter. They will need him even more now that Donte DiVincenzo will miss the rest of the playoffs after suffering a serious tendon injury in his left foot. I do think they’ll be fine with Forbes and P.J. Tucker eating those minutes. For this game though, I can see the Heat putting up a fight to avoid a sweep. I’ll make a small bet on the Heat to cover.

NBA Pick: Heat +5 (-110) at BetMGM