The Miami Heat beat the Milwaukee Bucks 88-77 Sunday, advancing to the second round of the NBA playoffs and doing something it has not done in the Big Three era: sweep a playoff series.
LeBron James led all scorers with 30 points, adding 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Ray Allen added 16 points off the bench, shooting 4 of 7 from three-point range. It was the fourth straight win by double digits for the Heat.
"It was our next big step as far as our growth," James said. "It's so hard to win on the road in the playoffs, in someone's building — especially when someone is playing for their last life. It's a big step for us."
Miami led the entire game, but the Bucks kept it close, pulling within two points with just under ten minutes left in the game.
But the Heat responded with a 19-5 run to put the game out of that reach. During that six-minute stretch, James had a hand in every Heat point, scoring 6 points and adding 4 assists (all of which led to three-pointers).
The Heat managed to finish off Milwaukee without the services of Dwyane Wade, who dressed but did not play. He received treatment on his right knee for bone bruises, and the team opted to give him a day off to more fully recover. It was only the second time in his career that Wade missed a postseason game (the first was in 2005).
"He gave me the nod saying he wasn't going to go, so I knew had to pick it up a little more and try to bring us home, bring this win home for us," James said.
Mike Miller started in his place, scoring 5 points. Udonis Haslem scored 13 points, and Chris Bosh added 10.
The Heat will face the winner of the Chicago-Brooklyn series in the second round. Chicago holds a 3-1 series lead, and can advance with a win at Brooklyn on Monday. Wade and the Heat will have plenty of time to rest, as the next series will not start until Saturday at the earliest.
"It's big," Wade said of the time off. "Obviously, we're one of the oldest teams in the league, maybe the oldest team in terms of rotation players. Guys have some bumps and bruises coming out of this series, so it's going to be great to get some rest. But also we have to take this time to continue to stay sharp, to continue to stay in shape as well."