As back-to-back sets go, things couldn’t be much easier.
The Heat (49-22) haven’t had a lot to cheer for lately; injuries, lineup changes and their first losing month in the Big Three era. In last night’s game versus the Detroit Pistons, Miami was missing three starters and their best bench player.
The won by 32 points.
Tonight, the Heat travels to Milwaukee to take on the team with the worst record in the NBA. The Bucks (14-58) have dropped 8 of their last 10 games but just pulled out a win against the Lakers on Thursday night. The bad news? Milwaukee hasn’t won two in a row all season.
There’s a lot I could say about Milwaukee’s season, almost all of it bad. They’re the front-runners in the Tank-a-thon that is the Eastern Conference, they’ve been decimated by injuries, and their roster was poorly-constructed in the first place. If you want the full scoop, go check out the Bucks’ site, Behind the Buck Pass. The reality is that they have virtually no chance of beating Miami tonight, so long as the Heat rolls out a roster with LeBron James and four other guys – which may very well be tonight’s starting lineup.
Against the Pistons, the Heat was without the services of Dwyane Wade (hamstring), Mario Chalmers (ankle), Greg Oden (back spasms) and Ray Allen (flu). So, James went out and recorded a triple-double (17 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds), alongside Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Toney Douglas and James Jones. Think about that for a second…Haslem was buried on the bench until two weeks ago, Douglas was acquired in mid-January and Jones hasn’t played in a game over two months. Here’s what Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after the game (via ESPN):
“This was one of those games where we had to have different guys step up. You can’t make excuses about lineups and injuries in this league. We’ve got to win games with the guys you can put on the floor every night.”
Tell that to the Bucks.
No word yet on who is or isn’t available in Milwaukee. But Spoelstra’s use of backups and, moreover, their great success in recent games, makes this is a stronger team for the postseason. As the past two title runs have shown, a big boost off the bench can make all the difference.
Watch the telecast of the game beginning at 8:30 P.M. on Sun Sports from BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Check back with AllUCanHeat for a recap after the game.