Bucks vs Heat Picks and Predictions: Bucks Attack Shallow Heat

The Bucks are sitting Giannis tonight, but the Heat's roster is hanging on by a thread, and won't be able to match Milwaukee's depth. See why the underdogs have plenty of value in tonight's NBA picks.

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2023 3:01 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Jrue Holiday Milwaukee Bucks
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On the second night of a back-to-back, the Milwaukee Bucks will rest their biggest name against the Miami Heat. Then again, the Heat have had one of the longest injury reports all season long. Which partial squad will prevail tonight as each begins to focus on its positioning in the Eastern Conference?

Here are our free NBA picks and predictions for the Bucks vs the Heat on January 12, with tip set for 7:30 ET.

Bucks vs Heat best odds

Bucks vs Heat picks and predictions

If this were either of the last two seasons, there would be no chance Giannis Antetokounmpo would sit out against the Heat. Miami was too good, contending with the top tier of the East for home-court advantage. The games effectively counted double.

If the Bucks were facing the Celtics, Nets, 76ers, or even the Cavaliers tonight, Giannis would almost assuredly play. Milwaukee will go long into the spring worrying about that quartet and home-court advantage in these playoffs. Those games would effectively count double.

But with the Heat stuck in the play-in tier, the Bucks are not as worried. Thus, it was announced Thursday afternoon that Giannis will sit out tonight with “left knee soreness.” He joins Khris Middleton (coincidentally, right knee soreness) on the bench, though Middleton has been sidelined since mid-December.

There was a version of the win in Atlanta where Giannis would still be good to play tonight. Milwaukee was up 21 points at halftime before a lackluster third quarter made things interesting enough for him to play 35 minutes.

Coming off his own injury that cost him four games across New Year’s celebrations, it is somewhat a surprise to see Jrue Holiday playing in this back-to-back, but the Bucks did not even list him as questionable on their official injury report.

And he may be all Milwaukee needs. The Heat will be without Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro, with Bam Adebayo considered probable. After them, the only players to play 20 minutes per game and appear in more than half of Miami’s last 10 games are Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent.

Suddenly a lineup of Holiday, Jevon Carter, Pat Connaughton, Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez doesn’t sound so overmatched, does it? Frankly, this should come down to bench depth, where the Bucks can trot out MarJon Beauchamp, George Hill, and Wesley Matthews. 

The Heat will be responding with Haywood Highsmith, Orlando Robinson and Jamal Cain.

Should Milwaukee be favored? How dominant does Adebayo need to be in order to validate a 6-point spread in Miami’s favor?

Now for a wrinkle. In the Bucks’ last 18 games, if they won against the spread, they won the game. If they lost against the spread, they lost the game. That includes one push as a 1-point favorite on Dec. 9.

In its last two games as an underdog, Milwaukee won outright, both coming within the last eight days, both on the road against overmatched Eastern Conference foes hoping to capitalize on situational opportunities.

If the Bucks are going to cover tonight, they just may win outright. If any gametime decision goes against the Heat, then the value in this moneyline thought will be quite clear. As high as +210, even half a unit of a play will pad the ledger.

My best bet: Bucks moneyline (+210 at WynnBET)

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Bucks vs Heat spread analysis

The spread movement made clear Milwaukee’s availability long before the team officially did. At dawn, this line opened with Miami favored by 3.5, dropping to -2.5 as the workday began before rebounding to -4.0.

It then jumped to -6.5 at 1:40 ET, word first leaking out that Giannis would not play. Either that was a half-point of overreaction or the Holiday-will-play clarification knocked the line back down to -6.0.

Consider this a lesson of exactly when to act on a typical NBA weekday, particularly with a heavyweight walking into the second half of a back-to-back.

Bucks vs Heat Over/Under analysis

Naturally, the total fell with the Giannis news. It opened at 220.0 this morning before falling to 217.5 as you had your first coffee at the office. Then the availability report plunged it to 213.5 or 213.0, depending on your book.

As prolific as Giannis is, one could argue that it’s an overreaction, as his shots will still be taken. If anything, Miami’s depleted frontcourt should produce more now.

Bucks vs Heat betting trend to know

Milwaukee is 4-1 ATS in its last five games. Find more NBA betting trends for Bucks vs. Heat.

Bucks vs Heat game info

Location: FTX Arena, Miami, Florida
Date: Thursday, January 12, 2023
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports Sun, Bally Sports WI

Bucks vs Heat key injuries

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