The Miami Heat were big winners of this offseason by landing All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry in a sign-and-trade from the Toronto Raptors, and Lowry will make his Heat debut at home vs. the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. This spread was Bucks -2.5 this morning but now is Heat -2 because Milwaukee has chosen to rest starters Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez and with key reserve Bobby Portis out again. The total has dropped from 225.5 to 223 and might not be done.
Frankly, it's not surprising to this writer that Holiday is sitting – we said as much on our Wednesday night pick at SportsLine and on the Early Edge show this morning. Holiday left Tuesday's opening-night win over Brooklyn with a heel injury and didn't return. Holiday, a spectacular defender, had 12 points and was plus-17 in the win over Brooklyn in 18 minutes. An MRI turned up nothing and Holiday originally was listed as probable for Thursday, but there's just no point in pushing things this early.
While the Bucks were jacked up Tuesday to get their championship rings, etc., they don't care about the regular season right now, let's be clear. Lopez being ruled out came out of nowhere and he's being listed as having back soreness. He had eight points, five rebounds and three blocks in 28 minutes Tuesday.
With Portis and Donte DiVincenzo still out due to previous injuries, the Bucks' starting lineup tonight should be Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and then the less-than-imposing trio of Jordan Nwora, Grayson Allen and George Hill. This feels like a mail-it-in game, and I'm all over Miami.
The Heat are healthy other than Victor Oladipo, but we knew weeks ago he wasn't going to be ready to start the season. Miami will have two new starters this year in Lowry and former Bucks forward PJ Tucker, who was a key part of that championship team with his defense and hustle. For what it's worth, the Heat were 5-1 in the preseason, tying for the best mark in franchise history. Tyler Herro finished with an NBA-best 112 points.
Miami ended last regular season scoring at least 100 points in 18 consecutive games, the longest such streak in franchise history. The Heat have won six straight season openers at home, the third-best such active streak in the NBA.
Milwaukee was 2-1 vs. Miami last regular season and then swept the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
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