The sputtering Milwaukee Bucks aren’t in danger of dropping out of the playoff picture just yet, but they’re heading in the wrong direction with the regular season winding down.
The Miami Heat are one of several teams they’re trying to hold off.
Looking to snap a season-worst six-game losing streak, Milwaukee goes for a four-game season sweep over the visiting Heat on Tuesday night.
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While the Bucks (34-36) still occupy sixth place in the Eastern Conference, they’re suddenly just a few games ahead of five teams battling for the East’s last three playoff spots. Included in that bunch is seventh-place Miami (32-37), which can climb within one-half game of the Bucks with a victory Tuesday.
Milwaukee has outscored the Heat by an average of 12.7 points in taking this season’s first three meetings, though another victory could be hard to come by if its latest efforts are any indication. Coach Jason Kidd’s group has dropped six straight and 13 of 16 after falling 108-90 to Cleveland on Sunday.
Michael Carter-Williams committed six of the team’s 23 turnovers, which led to 28 points for the Cavaliers. The Bucks cough the ball up 16.8 times per game for one of the NBA’s worst marks.
"We’ve done that all season," Kidd said. "That puts our defense in a bad situation, puts a lot of pressure on your defense. When you play against the good teams, you’re going to play from behind a lot.
"We’re a young team, we’re going to make young mistakes and we have to get better."
The Bucks are also looking for more from their reserves, who are averaging 19.7 points during their skid compared to 38.2 on the season.
"This is a team game, and we’ve been built as a team. It’s not just one guy, we’ve played 10 to 11 guys," Kidd said. "Right now our bench isn’t giving us anything. So we have to get more from our bench and not just rely on those five guys that are starting."
The Heat, who have forced an average of 17.7 turnovers over their last six games, had won three in a row before opening a four-game trek with Sunday’s 93-75 loss at Oklahoma City. Miami, which matched its second-lowest scoring total this season, shot 3 of 18 from 3-point range and 8 of 15 from the line.
"It was just the level of competition. They kept coming in waves," coach Erik Spoelstra. "You have two teams in an urgent situation and they played like it and we didn’t."
The Heat have dropped four straight and eight of their last 10 away from home. They haven’t endured five consecutive road defeats since an 11-game skid spanning the 2007-08 and ’08-09 seasons.
Miami is the NBA’s second-lowest scoring road team at 92.6 points per game, and Milwaukee is 25-6 when allowing 94 or fewer. The Heat haven’t been swept by the Bucks since losing all four meetings in 1990-91.
Dwyane Wade was limited to 12 points against the Thunder, but he’s averaging 26.6 on 53.2 percent shooting over his last eight games. He’s averaging 23.4 in his last five visits to Milwaukee.
The Bucks’ Jared Dudley (knee) and O.J. Mayo (hamstring) are both listed as questionable.