Bucks try to turn tables on Heat
The Milwaukee Bucks haven't beaten the Miami Heat in two years and two days -- six straight losses.
Milwaukee will get another shot Tuesday night when the Heat (21-20) visits the Bucks (30-12).
Maybe this game will be different. After all, Milwaukee last week completed its best first half of a season in 28 years.
The Bucks, who are in second place in the Eastern Conference standings, lead the NBA in point differential.
"I think teams are starting to realize that we're not the same Bucks team that we were when I first got here six years ago," Bucks wing Khrys Middleton told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We're a totally different team even from last year."
Milwaukee is 19-4 on its home court this season, so that should be advantage Bucks ... except for their inability to beat the Heat the past two years.
Miami, which is 10-8 on the road, is playing without 2018 All-Star point guard Goran Dragic (knee surgery), and center Hassan Whiteside missed the Heat's previous game due to an unspecified illness. He is questionable for Milwaukee.
The Bucks are relatively healthy -- only rookie guard Donte DiVincenzo missed Milwaukee's 133-114 rout of the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, due to an ankle injury.
Bucks point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had missed Milwaukee's previous game due to a left-hip contusion and right-quadriceps soreness, scored a game-high 33 points against Atlanta. He added six rebounds, four assists and three steals in 31 minutes.
Miami will be the better rested team on Tuesday. The Heat defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 112-108 on Saturday as forward-turned-point-guard Justise Winslow put up 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
"I love what Justise is doing," Heat veteran Udonis Haslem told the Sun-Sentinel. "I love the edge he plays with."
Whiteside, who is averaging 12.7 points and leads Miami in rebounds (12.5) and blocks (2.5), was replaced in the Heat lineup by Bam Adebayo, who had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds against Memphis.
Heat shooting guard Josh Richardson nearly had a double-double of his own against Memphis with 14 points and a career-high nine assists.
As for the rivalry against the Bucks, Winslow had eight points, six rebounds and five assists the last time Miami played Milwaukee, which was a 94-87 Heat victory on Dec. 22.
Antetokounmpo, a top MVP candidate, was held to nine points in that game, although he did have 13 rebounds and three assists.
But that loss is just a blip on the overall screen for the Bucks star, who is averaging 26.7 points, 12.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists this season. He is also shooting 64.5 percent on two-pointers.
Better yet, he is doing all this in 33.5 minutes per game, which is three minutes less than his average last season.
Defensively, Antetokounmpo is ferocious, averaging 1.5 blocks. His 10.2 defensive rebounds per game are on pace to be a career high, and he is holding opposing shooters to just 40.8-percent accuracy, the best mark among all Milwaukee starters.
The Bucks support their star with scorers such as Middleton (17.8), Malcolm Brogdon (15.6) and Eric Bledsoe (15.3).
--Field Level Media
Updated January 14, 2019