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) /
2 of 4
Miami Heat
NBA Miami Heat defend Jrue Holiday (Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports) /

Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks: X-factors

Bucks: Jrue Holiday 

Heat: Trevor Ariza 

We know the big names that will likely end up deciding this series, but for the Bucks, the x-factor for this series will be Jrue Holiday. And it’s easy to see why. Holiday was not a player that was involved in this series last season and is one that will cause several issues for Miami’s defense.

As good as Miami’s defense is (ranked 10th during the regular season), they lack a true point of attack stopper. That’s what Holiday will have to be in this series for Milwaukee to be victorious and another aspect that the Bucks will be able to throw at Miami this season.

Additionally, Holiday will help take some of the playmaking and scoring pressure off of Giannis Antetokounmpo, especially if the Heat goes all-out on stopping him once again.

Miami was perfectly fine with Khris Middleton having his way on the offensive end, but could they afford to let Middleton and Holiday do that while also being victorious this time around? That seems unlikely.

For the Heat, the x-factor is Trevor Ariza. He’s going to have to fill the void that was left by Crowder. And against the Bucks, he was a big part of their success. In that series, Crowder averaged 15 points and six rebounds on 43 percent shooting from 3-point range (on 10 attempts per game).

On top of his contributions on the offensive end, he was often the first primary defender on Giannis. Even though the Heat somewhat centered their team defense around Giannis and keeping him out of the paint, it took a strong effort from Crowder to make the overall defense work.

The Heat doesn’t beat the Bucks last season without the contributions of Crowder and they won’t do the same in the playoffs this year without Ariza filling that role.