Bucks or Celtics: Which Team is More Favorable for the Miami Heat?
The Miami Heat’s 99-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers earned them a trip to the Eastern Conference finals.
They will either face the Milwaukee Bucks or the Boston Celtics. The Heat have seen these two teams in their recent postseason matchups.
They beat both teams during their 2020 NBA Finals appearance. Last year, they were swept by the Bucks, who went on to win the championship. The Heat have familiarity with both squads.
So which one will be a better opponent for Miami?
The Bucks have two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who many call the best player in the world. They also have the defensive presence of Jrue Holiday and Wesley Matthews, and the size advantage with players like Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis. Their shooting guard Pat Connaughton has been solid for them as well, averaging 9.8 points in the playoffs. The Bucks are missing All-Star Khris Middleton, whose injury return is still up in the air for the remainder of the playoffs.
The Celtics have All-Star Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the way. They also have a rejuvenated Al Horford and Marcus Smart, the Defensive Player of the Year. Boston also has role players such as Derrick White, Robert Williams III, and Daniel Theis.
Looking over these two teams, Boston seems to be the more preferable option for the Heat.
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Antetokounmpo has averaged 21.1 points, 11.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists against Miami’s prime defender Bam Adeabyo.
Adeabyo, meanwhile, has averaged 11.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists against Antetokounmpo. Adebayo’s average plus-minus is -3.3.
Jimmy Butler also had arguably his worst playoff series against the Bucks in 2021, shooting 29.7 percent from the field and averaging only 14.5 points.
While the Celtics may have more regular season success against Miami than the Bucks, Milwaukee is looking like the more dangerous team. They are performing well even with the absence of their second best player. Antetokounmpo is physical and near unstoppable in the paint. His style of play mirrors that of Joel Embiid, who gave Miami problems upon his return. In addition, Adebayo has also done slightly better against Tatum, who averaged 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists against Adebayo.
Lastly, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has beaten the Celtics three times in the postseason.
With all that, Heat fans should be cheering for Boston to advance to the conference finals.
Jayden Armant is a contributor to Inside The Heat. He is a student at Howard University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @jaydenarmant.