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
NBA Miami Heat defend Giannis (Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports) /

Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Key matchups

The Heat’s defense vs. Giannis 

During last year’s series, the Heat made it known that they were willing to let Giannis shoot outside the paint all he wanted and essentially created a wall around the paint. Will that work this time around? Will Erik Spoelstra go back to that defensive plan that worked so effectively last season? Does the addition of Holiday make change the Heat’s ability to run the same exact defense? Will he be the one that is able to break Miami’s zone? Will Giannis not settle this year?

What Miami elects to do on the defensive end is one of the biggest questions heading into this series. If they can’t find an effective game plan on that end of the floor, the rest might not even matter.

Jrue Holiday vs. Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and Kendrick Nunn 

Assuming that the Heat and Bucks get what they expect from Giannis, Middleton, Bam Adebayo, and Jimmy Butler, respectively, this matchup could very well come down to Holiday vs. Dragic, Herro, Robinson, or Nunn – whichever truly steps up for the Heat.

If Holiday has the type of impact that many expect him to have, Miami is going to need a third or even a fourth contributor to step up in a big way. And if Dragic or Herro isn’t up to the task, perhaps a Robinson or Nunn will be able to come through. If none of them are up to the task, Miami doesn’t have much of a shot in this series.