Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks: X-factors, key matchups, and a prediction

NBA Miami Heat Jimmy Butler (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA Miami Heat Jimmy Butler (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Miami Heat
Miami Heat Bam Adebayo (Jim Rassol-USA TODAY ) /

Digging deeper into the first-round NBA Playoff series between the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks. 

There might not be a more anticipated first-round NBA Playoff matchup in the Eastern Conference than the rematch from last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals series between the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks. In that series, the Heat clearly looked like the better team but both teams have changed drastically in the last few months.

The Bucks enter the playoffs with a chip on its shoulder while the Heat are coming in as a shell of their NBA Finals version of themselves.

After faltering in the restart bubble, the Bucks added Jrue Holiday during the offseason and this team’s supporting cast has been somewhat reworked with the addition of Bobby Portis and Bryn Forbes.

As far as the Heat is concerned, Jae Crowder (who tormented the Bucks) is no longer on the roster and has effectively been replaced by Trevor Ariza (who has been a great late-season find). Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro aren’t exactly playing at the level they were at in the playoffs last season but Kendrick Nunn is healthy and Jimmy Butler is playing at an extremely efficient level.

How will all these factors (and then some) impact this series? We explore and dig a bit deeper ahead of Game 1, which is slated for May 22 at 2:00 p.m. ET.