Bucks vs. Heat: What to make of a likely first-round playoff preview

USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks play the Miami Heat in a game that, as it stands, will be a first-round postseason matchup.

As is, the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat will open the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against one another. Milwaukee remains 2.5 games behind the seventh-place Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings, and with six games to play, there's little shot of them swapping positions.

So Jim Boylan's team visits Miami on Tuesday night where it'll get a good look at the NBA's best team. Well, sort of.

The Heat will be without Dwyane Wade, who could be done for the rest of the regular season because of an ankle injury, but they will have LeBron James. Chris Bosh is also out with an illness, so perhaps Milwaukee won't get the full Miami Heat experience. Either way, the Bucks (37-39) could gain a little more confidence with a favorable showing. They are 1-2 against Miami this season, so any positives could help them enter the postseason relatively unfazed by Miami's résumé.

And it's not as if the Heat have really lost much as Wade has missed the last four games. Outside of a loss to the Bulls, Miami's recent success hasn't waned so long as James is leading the charge. Further helping the cause, reserves such as Mike Miller and Chris "Birdman" Anderson have jumped into significant roles.

Miller is averaging 15.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists in three April games, including a 26-point outburst against the Charlotte Bobcats two games ago. Anderson is coming off a 15-rebound game in a 106-87 win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

If James gets his role players to pick up whatever few scraps needed alongside his domination -- James is averaging 29.3 points, 7.6 assists and 7.4 rebounds on 62.8-percent shooting in his last seven -- Miami (60-16) will tie its franchise mark for most wins in a season.

But the Bucks do have some things going for them.

The season series

Through three games against the Heat, the Bucks have competed because they haven't turned over the ball. That is one thing that must continue, as Miami, like all good teams, thrives off opponent miscues. Milwaukee has turned the ball over just 8.7 times per game in the three outings.

They lost in overtime, 113-106, in November, pummeled a healthy Miami team, 104-85, in December and fell by 13 in the 21st of the Heat's 27-game winning streak in mid-March.

Brandon Jennings has been one bright constant against the Heat, as he is averaging 21.7 points and 6.3 assists against Miami. But he'll need a little more help from Monta Ellis, who is shooting 28.9 percent against the Heat this season.

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: SUN/FS Wisconsin

Odds: Miami opened as a seven-point favorite.

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