Bucks feel they match up well against Heat
APR 09, 2013 2:18p ET
MIAMI — Guard Ray Allen said his Miami Heat having won 60 games could throw some “fear’’ into teams in the playoffs.
None of that is apparently prevalent on the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks are the likely playoff foe for the Heat in the first round. Some on the team seem to be relishing the possibility of facing Miami.
“Just for us, personally we know everybody is going to be watching the Miami Heat because they’re the champs from last year,’’ guard Brandon Jennings said before his Bucks faced the Heat on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. “So there will be more pressure on them than us. So maybe we can probably steal one hopefully.’’
Jennings said, yes, he’s talking about hopefully stealing the series if the teams meet in the playoffs. Miami (60-16) already has locked up the No. 1 seed in the East and the Bucks (37-39) are likely bound for No. 8 due to being 2½ games behind Boston (40-37) with just over a week left in the season.
If such talk from the Bucks seems foolish, do consider they’ve actually played the Heat very well during the Big Three era. One reason is the quickness of Jennings, who has averaged 21.7 points, 6.3 assists and 3.0 steals in three games this season against Miami.
Starting with the last matchup of the 2010-11 season, the Bucks are 4-3 against the Heat. The Heat lead the series 2-1 this season, but that includes a 113-106 overtime victory in the previous game in Miami back in November.
“I’ve been on teams where it’s just always one team in the NBA that you match up well against, and Miami is just one of the teams that we match up well against,’’ Bucks guard Monta Ellis said. “I guess guys wake up and dream of playing the Miami Heat, and they bring their game out because they’re a great team, and you always want to come out and beat the best.’’
Told about Allen saying Miami’s 60-win total could “incite a little fear’’ for teams in the playoffs, Ellis said that wouldn’t be the case with the Bucks.
“No, because at the end of the day we got a job to do,’’ Ellis said. “To us, it’s any given night. In this NBA, anybody can be beat on any given night. I guess guys just love playing the best and you want to beat the best. And you always bring your A game when it’s against the best, the best team. And Miami is one of the best teams in the NBA, and guys just get ready to play them.’’
Of course, it’s one thing to beat the Heat on a given night. The Bucks would have to beat them four times to win a series.
“It’s just something that we get up for, the fact that the Miami Heat is the best team in the NBA, and we’re trying to make a name for ourselves, too,’’ Jennings said. “It’s not easy at all. I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy (to beat Miami in a series), but I think we’re up for the challenge. ... As a team, I think we’re confident and we’re ready for the challenge. ... It will be national coverage. Everybody will be watching. But we’re going to try to fight for the 7 spot too. We’ll see what happens.’’
The Bucks do hold the tiebreaker over Boston, which would give them the No. 7 seed if the teams have the same record. But Milwaukee has a tougher schedule to close the season, including five of six on the road.
As for any tough talking now by the Bucks about the Heat, Miami star LeBron James figures it all would be settled on the court if the teams meet.
“If they feel that way, then they have us in the first round,’’ James said. “We’ll see how we match up. It’s OK. We’re all NBA players for a reason. Teams are put together for a reason. I’m not here to take shots at anybody. That’s not what we do as a team. We just go about our business. Whoever we have in the first round, we’ll be ready for them.’’
Starting with the last meeting in 2009-10, the Bucks are 2-1 in Miami, with the overtime loss Nov. 21 being the only setback. In the two games this season in Milwaukee, the Bucks won 104-85 on Dec. 29 before the Heat got revenge with a 107-94 victory March 15.
If the teams meet in the playoffs, the Bucks might be hoping for a really cold spell in Milwaukee. After all, Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy cited weather as one reason why his team has had some success against the Heat.
“It’s probably climate related,’’ Dunleavy said. “They come up there in January, February. It’s cold, gray and you probably don’t get up for the games as much. And we come down here, it’s nice weather and the sun and the silicone and all that. We probably get up for it a little bit more. But I think spring, playoffs; that’s probably a wash. We don’t have that advantage anymore (of very cold weather in Milwaukee). So we’ll see how it goes.’’
Regardless of what the temperature is in late April in Milwaukee, the intensity might not cool down too much if the Heat and Bucks meet in the first round.