LeBron James told us beforehand to not judge any match ups in his team’s contest with the Milwaukee Bucks, who are the likely opponents for the Miami Heat in the first round of the 2013 postseason.
Match ups with the Milwaukee Bucks? After Miami’s convincing 94-83 win in the absence of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the only match up problem that could be brought up is which Bucks defender will be the next victim to defend the improbable task of defending James.
In 30 minutes, James finished with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 1 block to lead the Heat to a victory that may all but assure their eventual participation in a first round match up with the Bucks.
The Bucks threw defender after defender at LeBron; starting with Marquis Daniels and then switching between Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and even starting center Larry Sanders.
None fared too well. James shot 11-of-16 and added another play to his enormous 2012-’13 highlight reel, contributing a self alley-oop:
LeBron single-handily kept his team in the game. Miami as a team missed 18 of their first 19 three-point attempts, yet held an edge for a vast majority of the game because of a plentiful amount of mid-range jumpers and drives from the future league MVP.
The Bucks took a one-point lead on the first possession of the half. That was the last time they’d see a lead as Miami ran off a 7-0 run, which eventually led to a 24-13 advantage for Miami in the third quarter.
One of the Heat’s few crutches early on was Udonis Haslem. Despite facing a big starting lineup that featured 6’10” Ersan Ilyasova and 6’11” Larry Sanders, Haslem controlled the glass all night, finishing with a season-high 15 rebounds to go along with 10 points.
Miami’s has had problems in the past with the Bucks on the boards, but had no issues tonight, even with Shane Battier starting at power forward. The Heat outrebounded the Bucks 49-37 overall and 14-5 on the offensive glass.
Chris Andersen had six of those offensive rebounds, grabbing nine altogether and hitting his first three-pointer of the season to cap off an excellent night from the Heat frontcourt.
The rest of the supporting cast was relatively quiet. Norris Cole played as good as defense as you can play on the enigma that is Brandon Jennings’ jump shot, while finishing with 11 points on 9 shots.
Ray Allen was one of four Heat players to score in double-figures, but needed 13 shots to score 11 points and shot 2-of-8 from beyond the arc. He had a few cases of being too open, including an instance where he shot a wide-open corner-three off the side of the backboard.
Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis, and Shane Battier combined to shoot 2-of-16. Milwaukee still never got close to pulling out a victory, despite the Heat shooting 8-of-35 (23 percent) as a team from the land of three.
The Bucks were led by Brandon Jennings’ 30 points on 16 shots, but he was the only Bucks player to score in double-figures. Monta Ellis couldn’t take advantage of the absence of Wade, recording eight points and six turnovers in 28 minutes.
Ellis and Jennings combined for 10 of Milwaukee’s 20 turnovers.
The Heat tied the franchise-record for wins in a season, set by the 1996-’97 team. Miami will have five opportunities to eclipse the record, starting with a road game against the hot Washington Wizards Wednesday night.