MILWAUKEE (CBSMiami) – Two teams trending in opposite directions will square off when the Miami Heat visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.
Only the Brooklyn Nets are keeping the Heat off the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings while an exciting young Bucks team is pushing for a top-eight spot in the conference and is coming off an impressive win.
Milwaukee (19-18) snapped a two-game slide and jumped back above .500 by pulling off a 109-107 win at San Antonio despite star small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo being limited due to an illness.
“I think this game showed a lot of character and resilience,” forward Michael Beasley, who scored a season-high 28 points, told reporters. “It showed that we are working. We are trying to get better at late-game situations.”
The Heat (11-29) are playing the finale of a six-game road trip on Friday and lost the last three after earning a 107-102 win at Sacramento on January 4th.
Miami got star center Hassan Whiteside back from a four-game absence at the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday but could not manage more than an average of 90.5 points despite his presence in the last two games.
Whiteside recorded a double-double in each of the last two games and put up his second 25-plus points, 20-plus rebounds game of the season with 28 points and 20 boards at Golden State on Tuesday, but Miami still suffered a 107-95 setback.
“Whiteside is a handful,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters. “Whether he’s scoring inside or not, he’s a threat in there and you have to honor that. They are a good team and better than their record shows. I know you are going to say that’s coach speak or whatever, but they are a competitive team that plays hard and they are going to make you work.”
The Heat may make teams work but they lack firepower on the offensive end aside from Whiteside and point guard Goran Dragic and rank 29th in the league in scoring at an average of 98.1 points.
Antetokounmpo went scoreless in nine minutes against the Spurs but Beasley, one of the older players on the roster at 28 and a mentor to the youngsters, picked up the slack. The former No. 2 overall pick went 11-of-18 from the floor in 34 minutes off the bench and filled the box score with five rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a pair of steals.
“He was terrific,” said rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon. “He was the heart and soul for us tonight. We leaned on him like we lean on Giannis. When one man goes down, someone has to step up. He filled the role. Giannis isn’t replaceable, but he (Beasley) did a great job tonight.”
1. Bucks F Jabari Parker is averaging 25 points on 50.9 percent shooting in the last three games.
2. Heat SG Josh Richardson (left foot) sat out the last two games and is day-to-day.
3. Parker and Antetokounmpo were held to a total of 25 points on 10-of-35 shooting in a 96-73 loss at Miami on Nov. 17.
PREDICTION: Bucks 109, Heat 98
By SportsDirect Inc.