GAME PREVIEW: Heat face must-win in-season tournament game against rival Bucks

Heat Bucks
If the Heat want to advance past the group stage, it must beat the Bucks Tuesday. (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)

Game story:

The now 10-7 Miami Heat have a crucial matchup ahead for tonight against the rival Milwaukee Bucks. Damian Lillard will suit up on Miami’s home floor for the first time since his summer-long Heat trade demand took place.

Milwaukee is sporting a 12-5 record and sits at the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. The back-to-back losses for the Heat in New York over the weekend dropped them down to the 5th seed, 2.0 games behind the Bucks.

Tonight is a “must-win” game for the in-season tournament hopes for Miami. If they want any chance of heading to Vegas, it won’t happen if they don’t secure the victory tonight. Regardless if they win, it still doesn’t guarantee a spot to advance in the tournament.

It also depends on what goes on with the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets game, who are both in Miami’s tournament division.

Although, with this banged up Heat team they could very much benefit from getting some extra time off.

Everybody knows this squad isn’t too into this tournament to begin with, as both fans and the team know and understand that their sights are on the much bigger picture of winning an NBA championship.

Still, cash compensation and the notion of being the very first ever tournament champion is on the line.

The Heat lost to the Bucks in their first and only matchup thus far this season on October 30th, 122-114.

Bam Adebayo was not available in that game due to hip pain, which is still what he is dealing with now a month later.

However, Adebayo has been upgraded to probable for tonight after missing Saturday’s game in Brooklyn. Duncan Robinson has also been upgraded to probable and was a full participant at yesterday’s practice.

Jimmy Butler is still questionable with the ankle tweak he suffered against the Knicks on Friday. Haywood Highsmith is also now listed as questionable after landing on his back on a shot blocking attempt on Saturday.

Look for Jaime Jaquez Jr. to be a lock to fill in for one of Butler or Highsmith if either of them cannot play tonight. The rookie has been getting the spot starts consistently all season so far whenever somebody has not been available.

Tyler Herro is still out, with no timetable yet for his return from his sprained ankle that he suffered over 2 weeks ago.

It’s almost at least nearing the time that it may be necessary for a bit more concern on Herro. He mentioned himself to the media the night the injury happened that he sees himself being out for 2 weeks. He suffered the injury on November 8 in Memphis early in a win against the Grizzlies. Tomorrow will mark 3 weeks since he went down; over the timeframe that the scoring guard gave out.

For tonight, the Heat need to contain the duo of Lillard and Antetokounmpo, who torched the team last time they matched up.

Brook Lopez is always another big name to keep an eye on, especially on the glass. Having Adebayo around for this match up should help with that though.

Khris Middleton is listed as questionable with a sore achilles and sat out the last game the Bucks played on Sunday.

Jae Crowder, a role player who also torched Miami a month ago, is listed as out for the Bucks. He was a force on both ends that night, and even limited Jimmy Butler a little bit defensively.

Tonight’s marquee matchup will be nationally televised on TNT at 7:30 PM ET.

Injury Report (at the time of this publishing):

Miami Heat:

  • Bam Adebayo (hip) — Probable
  • Duncan Robinson (thumb) — Probable
  • Jimmy Butler (ankle) — Questionable
  • Haywood Highsmith (back) —Questionable
  • Tyler Herro (ankle) — OUT
  • Dru Smith (knee) — OUT
  • RJ Hampton (knee) — OUT

Milwaukee Bucks:

  • Khris Middleton (achilles) — Questionable
  • Jae Crowder (adductor) — OUT
  • Marques Bolden (g league) — OUT
  • Ty Washington Jr. (g league) — OUT
  • Lindell Wigginton (g league) — OUT

Projected Starting 5:

Miami Heat:

  • Kyle Lowry, G
  • Duncan Robinson, G
  • Jimmy Butler, F
  • Haywood Highsmith, F
  • Bam Adebayo, C

Milwaukee Bucks:

  • Damian Lillard, G
  • Malik Beasley, G
  • Khris Middleton, F
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, F
  • Brook Lopez, C

Betting Lines (at the time of this publishing):

Broadcast Info:

  • Tipoff: 7:30 PM EST
  • TV: TNT & Bally Sports Sun (Eric Reid, John Crotty)
  • Radio: AM 560 Sports WQAM & The HEAT Radio Network (Jason Jackson)
  • Spanish Radio: WAQI 710 AM & The HEAT Spanish Radio Network (José Pañeda)

Come back to Hot Hot Hoops at game time to join our GameThread and chat about the game live with other Heat fans!

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Bout30man

Looks like it’s going to be a real up and down season, as things currently stand. There are going to be a lot of games where our players are unavailable and it will often affect the outcome. Somehow got to take it in stride, keep hoping for the best.

vagibugi

A convincing win would answer a lot of questions.

SunManFromDogBone

Forget the play-in tournament. It’s all about getting the team healthy and bringing in the pieces needed to win a championship. Hard to get too excited about playoff our chances until those two things happen. Meanwhile, enjoy the incremental improvements in our younger/newer players (Jaquez, Jovic, Cain, ORobinson, Hampton, Swider, Highsmith, etc.).
GO HEAT!!!

Belacqua

Glad for the voice of reason, DogBone. Would be nice to get the win tonight, but we should really be looking forward at the shape of the team going into December and beyond. I’d rather see the HEAT boys get healthy and go on another heavy victory stretch in the coming weeks.

Still, shurr would be nice to beat the bucks AND see some good minutes from the roster at large

edit: sinful cardinals over here. Forgot the GO HEAT!!!!!

Last edited 3 months ago by Belacqua
oregoner

I respectfully disagree. We have all season to focus on player development and building towards the playoffs. This is the most high-stakes game of basketball the Heat will play in the next few months. I’m super bummed to hear that Jimmy won’t be playing. I wanted to beat the Bucks in a playoff game! (again) (again)

vagibugi

Herro on Lillard would be great to watch.

heat for life

surprised jimmys not playing.im surprised when hes playing

oregoner

i surmise that I’m surprised that you’re surprised.

2qbn

I would like to add my surprised to this gentleman’s surprised leaving us triple surprised

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