Some keys for the first round series…
Duncan Robinson Staying Out of Foul Trouble.
This series is massive for Duncan Robinson and him showing to the Heat he can stay on the floor in the playoffs defensively. Duncan is a restricted free agent this summer and will be seeking 17-20 million per season. Offensively he is worth it with all he does for Miami’s movement and creating for others that way. Defensively he has improved tremendously this season, but the playoffs are different, and time will tell if he is playable late in games on that end. Many games this season Duncan has picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and that takes him out of the game early and he struggles to get his rhythm back. Many of those fouls are touchy soft fouls that many other players in the league wouldn’t be called for but Duncan must avoid those.
Bam Being Assertive Early & Often.
Jimmy didn’t play in any of the three regular season matchups, Bam only attempted a total of 29 field goals in those three games and only 13 free throw attempts. Thankfully for Miami Jimmy is healthy now but even with Jimmy playing Bam needs to be looking to score. Milwaukee will be playing their drop coverage and Brook Lopez will be guarding Bam a lot. Bam must make them pay no matter if that’s hitting the mid-range jump shots or going to the rim and finishing or getting fouled and shooting free throws. In the series vs the Bucks last year he averaged 15.8 combined shot attempts and free throws per game. That number needs to be much closer to 25 in this series if Miami wants to win. As Jimmy always talks about in his press conferences Bam has so much potential and you see it in so many ways. He’s an elite defender guarding anyone from point guard to center, running the offense creating for others and it’s time to see him be more consistent and aggressive as a scorer.
Kendrick Nunn Attacking the Drop Coverage.
Kendrick Nunn has had a roller coaster of a season going from starting at Point Guard to being out of the rotation. The Bucks are a matchup that Nunn has always been able to exploit in his career. Last year in the bubble Nunn dealt with some personal issues as discussed on the Five On The Floor podcast, he was still most productive vs the Bucks compared to any other team in last years playoffs prior to Goran Dragic’s injury. Nunn averaged over 13 minutes a game in that series and in the Pacers series only appeared in one game and in the Celtics series only played in the first three games of that series. Nunn has scored 10 or more points in 15 of the 18 games since Victor Oladipo suffered a season ending injury. Five of those games Nunn scored over 20 points including 31 vs the Bucks in their final regular season matchup. Nunn will have the midrange shots available in this series that he likes to take. If he hits those shots it will open up things for the Heat’s offense and could flip the series in Miami’s direction.
Playoff Jimmy Doing What He Does.
Jimmy Butler is often referred to as simply Playoff Jimmy in the playoffs. Heat fans got a great look at that in the bubble. Jimmy during the regular season is still a great player but during the regular season he’s rounding his body into form to get ready for the playoffs. He is able to lock in on one opponent over two weeks and his preparation shows. Last year the Bucks had two-time reigning MVP and Defensive Player of The Year Giannis Antetokounmpo and yet Jimmy Butler was the best player on the floor. Jimmy wants to play the best and he wants to be matched up with the best in the game. During the fourth quarter vs the Bucks in the bubble Jimmy was seen yelling at the Bucks bench “He can’t guard me!” after finishing over Giannis. If Jimmy plays like he typically does in the playoffs and gets the help needed from others you have to like Miami’s chances to defeat Milwaukee on the big stage again.
One prediction I will make is that Milwaukee native Tyler Herro will have a game in Milwaukee where he is the difference in a pivotal road win. Shoutout to Five On The Floor’s own Greg Sylvander who always has the guts, Heat in Five.
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