A 27-game winning streak, the best record in the league, and another likely MVP trophy for LeBron James are probably behind the Miami Heat now.
The club is solely focused on defending it’s championship and begin the run Sunday night against the Milwaukee Bucks at AmericaAirlines Arena in Game 1 of their seven-game first round series.
Miami’s core of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh took turns resting for the playoffs, but the Heat reserves continued to pressure opponents and the team is riding an eight-game winning streak.
Along with Wade’s 21 points and 10 assists, veteran guard Mike Miller pumped in 21 points against Orlando in the 105-93 regular season finale victory. In the game prior, Forward Rashard Lewis scored 19 points and Norris Cole had 16 points and 11 rebounds in a 96-95 win over Cleveland.
Rested stars and a title-hungry, talented bench could be huge problems for the 38-44 Bucks. Milwaukee fell below .500 after a 3-7 stretch in April, but did beat best-in-the-West Oklahoma City 95-89 to end the regular season.
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Despite the record, the Bucks have a strong core of players. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings make up one of the best backcourt tandems in the league, and center Larry Sanders has emerged as a premier defender with 2.8 blocks per game.
The game begins at 7 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast by TNT, or you can watch a live online stream at TNT Overtime here.
Betting Odds: Miami is favored by 13 points.
Over/Under: 199 points
Prediction: Miami is healthy and primed for another run. Sanders can control the paint and disrupt shots, but Milwaukee will struggle to score against the Heat’s overwhelming perimeter defense. James and Wade should dominate in the third quarter, and Miami will pull out the win.
Predicted Score: Miami 104, Milwaukee 89