2012 NBA Playoffs: Could Bucks Be LeBron's Biggest Road Block on Road to Finals?

Joye PruittSenior Analyst IFebruary 2, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 29:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on during a game against the Chicago Bulls at American Airlines Arena on January 29, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

This is the second time this season that even with double-digit, 20-plus scoring from two of the Miami Heat’s leading men, Brandon Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks were able to expose Miami’s lack of paint production.

In their first meeting, Dwyane Wade was absent and the workload was left up to Chris Bosh and LeBron James. The thought process may have been that with Wade active and back in the lineup, both LeBron and Bosh could only have added to their greatness against a Bucks team that does not seem to adequately matchup.

The only problem is that the point-deficit in the paint went from minus-16 to minus-14 in Milwaukee’s favor. So the question is, do the Milwaukee Bucks have what it takes to give Miami a run for their money in the postseason?

Of course it seems a bit early to talk about either squad engaging in a seven-game series, especially when no one knows what the Eastern Conference seeds will be. However, basketball is a game that leaves the door wide open for various possibilities.

After watching Miami dominate the Bucks going into the second half, riding on LeBron’s 26-point first half, and then subsequently end the game with another loss, things seem a little cloudier for the Miami team that is undoubtedly the favorite in this year’s NBA Finals without even making the playoffs.

Therefore, watching Milwaukee play lights out in the second half may pay dividends in the future for the Bucks, but may spark fear in the heart of coach Erik Spoelstra. There are a few matchup issues that Miami needs to worry about if they come face to face with the Bucks in the playoffs, regardless of what their accomplishments are in the regular season.

The point guard of the future for both franchises has totally different resumes and one is far more advanced than the other. Sadly Miami fans, that player does not happen to have the initials “M.C.”

Chalmers is a great point guard, but his growing pains are sprawled out all over the court for everyone to see. He is ragingly inconsistent when it comes to ball-handling and still misses those critical passes by a long shot, occasionally. In the second meeting against the Bucks, Chalmers drilled 4-of-6 of his three-point attempts, which still were not enough to level the Bucks and walk away with a win. But he had a solid point guard game.

The problem being that Brandon Jennings is not just a solid point guard. After spending a lot of his offseason participating in exhibition games and building the Under Armour brand, Jennings has come back with a renewed confidence in himself and his abilities.

He rivaled Chalmers’ three-point makes with seven of his own and zero turnovers. ZERO TURNOVERS. Jennings’ key to success against the Miami Heat is particularly sound and stable because of his refusal to turn over the ball and Miami’s lack of ability to force him to. Chalmers had five. Enough said.

Being more aggressive in the paint is another avenue of attack that a lot of people would believe Miami has no problem in. Watching the Big Three, namely LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, in the last few games propel themselves over and through entire human beings to make a statement, makes it a little challenging to assume that the Heat gets beat out in paint performance, ever.

But, as was previously stated, the Bucks have outperformed Miami in the paint both times each franchise has met. That could be due to the fact that Miami Heat’s role players are astonishingly unproductive against Milwaukee and showed no signs of changing that in their second contest.

Udonis Haslem averaged 2.5 points per against the Bucks. Norris Cole, the rookie who has shown so much grit and athletic promise averages three. Joel Anthony is not a usual that contributes to Miami’s offense, so it is not too surprising that his production has been stagnant. Shane Battier averages two points in each of the games against the Bucks.

Besides Miami’s starters, Milwaukee seems to do a great job of holding their dirty work players to a lower standard than they are used to.

Whatever the mystery may be behind Miami’s troubles against the Milwaukee Bucks, they may want to figure them out sooner than later. Another loss to Jennings in their Feb. 13 meeting might lead critics to believe that the Bucks’ bunch are one of the only franchises in the league who can hold Miami back from heading to the NBA Finals, or at least give them the strongest fight to the finish.

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