The two 3 v 6 matchups play their second games this evening and after predicting the winners in both of their first games we are confident with tonight’s NBA picks.
Both the Bucks and the Blazers hold 1-0 leads, but a game two win is no certainty and we have analysed every aspect of their games to provide you with the two winners for tonight!
Miami Heat @ Milwaukee Bucks (Game 2) – 7:30pm EDT
We have reached game two of the most intriguing matchup from the weekend as the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat go at it again, two nights after their overtime classic. Neither side won any individual quarter by more than five points and the game was so close that they needed another five minutes to determine the winner.
Milwaukee prevailed in the extra period thanks to a big time shot from Khris Middleton with just 0.5 left on the clock. Middleton was the star performer for the Bucks, scoring a game-high 27 points and making three of Milwaukee’s five three pointers for the game. That’s right, Milwaukee only made five threes in 53 minutes of basketball and still prevailed.
What is even more shocking is the fact that Miami made 20 but still only managed 107 total points in the loss. Duncan Robinson shot 7/13 from deep for his 24 points while Goran Dragic had a team-high 25 off the bench, but the story for the Heat was the poor play of their two All Stars.
Jimmy Butler had shot just 3/19 from the field until hitting the game tying buzzer beater to send the game into overtime, but then went 0/2 in the extra period. Bam Adebayo only managed 4/15 from the field for the entire game, including 0/2 in overtime as well.
The Heat made 15 more 3-pt FG than the Bucks, but still lost.
That’s the largest differential (+15) in 3-pt FG made in a playoff loss in NBA history.
It’s the 2nd-largest differential in any game, regular season or playoffs (Knicks +16 at Heat on Jan. 27, 2012) pic.twitter.com/6tqIBlXlMc
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 22, 2021
The Bucks did have their own shooting issues to worry about with their two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, managing 37% from the field, but even more alarming, just 6/13 (46.2%) from the line. Shooting has always been an issue for Antetokounmpo, highlighted by him going 0/14 outside of the paint and 10/13 in it.
Milwaukee was restructured for games like this. Giannis, despite still scoring 26 points, can have bad shooting nights with Middleton and Jrue Holiday (20 points on 50% shooting) there to help clean up the mess and keep the Bucks competitive. Milwaukee’s defense can’t be ignored. They restricted Miami to just 36.4% shooting from the field. Not only did they restrict their shooting ability but they also were disciplined defensively, sending the Heat to the line 19 times, compared to Miami sending them to the strip on 33 occasions.
In saying that, we don’t expect Butler and Adebayo to combine to shoot just 8/37 from the field ever again with Butler’s 17 points being extremely disappointing, as he was happy to point out post game. The fact that Miami shot so poorly, especially their two leaders, and only lost by two points in overtime is a big plus and we expect them to tighten the screws yet again for this one to even up the series.
Portland Trail Blazers @ Denver Nuggets (Game 2) – 10pm EDT
Saturday evening saw the Portland Trail Blazers make this series very interesting. Just six days after beating them on the last day of the regular season, Portland travelled to Denver and knocked off the three-seeded Nuggets in game one. Despite Denver being up by as many as seven in the first quarter and nine in the third quarter, Portland ran away 14 point winners.
Damian Lillard continued his excellent play from the end of the regular season, putting up an equal-game-high 34 points along with a personal playoff best 13 assists. Lillard scored 20 of those points in the decisive second half, along with CJ McCollum scoring 11 of his 21 after the main break.
Potentially the most important player for the Blazers was Jusuf Nurkic. Not only did he control the game with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, but his defense on Nikola Jokic allowed Portland to get on top. While the MVP frontrunner finished with 34 points and 16 boards, he had just one assist for the entire game and also shot just 3/4 from the line.
Denver as a team managed just 4/8 from the stripe and when you compare it to Lillard, who shot 9/9 on his own, there are no surprises as to who won the game. Portland went to the line 11 more times, making 14 more than the Nuggets, had seven more assists and two less turnovers. On top of that, Portland shot 47.5% from deep, making 19 threes compared to Denver’s 11.
The Blazers take Game 1 on the road against the Nuggets, 123-109 👀
◽️ Damian Lillard: 34 PTS, 13 AST
◽️ CJ McCollum: 21 PTS, 6 REB pic.twitter.com/SImx4VpyFu
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) May 23, 2021
Denver actually seemingly played alright, with Michael Porter Jr putting up 25 points, nine rebounds and two blocks and Monte Morris contributing 10 points and five assists off the bench, but their experienced veterans didn’t come through with the goods. The experienced duo of Paul Millsap and JaMychal Green combined for just three points and four rebounds in their 32 total minutes.
When you compare that to Carmelo Anthony and Anfernee Simons off the bench for Portland, who had 18 and 14 points respectively, the Blazers had the clear edge across the board. The question is now, given they have won 11 of their last 13 games, whether the Blazers can continue this run and take a real edge in this series heading back to Portland.
Denver has to come out more consistently tonight, especially with Austin Rivers and Facundo Campazzo, both starters, combining for just 14 points. We expect Jokic to get back to playmaking, seeing his assist numbers rise closer to his 8.3 season average and allowing his teammates to get better looks. Denver finished the regular season averaging 115 points per game, eighth best in the league, and that number increased to 116.9 when playing at home. We are accustomed to seeing a much better offensive performance from the Nuggets, especially against the Blazers’ 29th ranked defense, and are siding with the home side to even up the series.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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