If last month’s trip to South Beach taught the Milwaukee Bucks anything, it’s that they can compete.
Last time the Bucks played the Miami Heat, they took it to the defending champs but ended up losing 113-106. It was a pretty amazing until the very end where Miami (LeBron James specifically) came back to take the game to overtime where the differences between the Bucks and the Heat were a bit more clear. Miami was not playing around in overtime.
It’s almost two months into the NBA season and the once upstart Bucks aren’t as hot as they once were. Things have changed. In the last meeting with Miami, the Bucks got a huge 17-point, 18-rebound effort from rookie John Henson. Aside from Henson and the usual suspects Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, Tobias Harris and Mike Dunleavy were big contributors who turned in solid performances. Even Samuel Dalembert got into the fray with a solid ten points and five rebounds, and his first THREE BALL!
Since then, Harris has been dealing with a gashed elbow and Dalembert has dropped off the face of Scott Skiles’ Earth. Henson, the promising young forward, has gotten lost in the shuffle as well. He got rotation minutes in the six games following his impact performance over the Heat, but has seen only garbage minutes in Milwaukee’s past 11 games.
When Milwaukee took Miami down to the wire on November 21, I quickly chalked it up as a “moral victory” and expected for there to be a more exciting game in their Milwaukee showdown. The Bucks as a team certainly learned from the last Miami loss but some of the key contributors from that time aren’t as important heading into this game. I honestly don’t expect for Milwaukee to back down by any means but I don’t know what to expect at all from this rematch.
From the Miami angle, Dwayne Wade is returning from his one-game suspension for kicking Bobcats guard Ramon Sessions in the groin. Without Wade, Lebron James and the Heat came up short against the Detroit Pistons and they’ll surely be invested in Saturday night’s meeting.
The Bucks have been pretty Jekyll and Hyde so far this season. Sometimes they make shots, sometimes they don’t. Much of their performance is predicated on that shot making. But Milwaukee hung tough with the Heat despite a poor shooting night in late November. They were a different kind of Jekyll that night.
With all of the changes between that last matchup and now, who knows what we’ll see out there?