The Miami Heat have grown weary of the shenanigans they must put up with in the first round.
In 2011, it was a young motivated Philadelphia 76ers that staved off a sweep with an improbable Game 4 victory. In 2012, it was a New York Knicks team that shot their way into a two-point Game 4 win to avoid the sweep.
This time around, the Heat wanted their week-long rest.
Playing without Dwyane Wade, who wasn’t needed at all, the Heat used a strong defensive showing in the second half to upend the Milwaukee Bucks 88-78 to conclude the sweep.
It’s the first sweep in the ‘Big Three’ era. Miami had won four series in five games, but finished the job in Milwaukee against a Bucks’ team that came out and played with little intention of extending the series.
That includes Brandon “We’re going to win in six games” Jennings, who finished with an uninspiring three points on 1-of-7 shooting in only 23 minutes.
Naturally, the Bucks had no answer for LeBron James, who finished with an effortless 30 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals in 41 minutes. That’s not too bad when you consider so many who believed Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to be a “LeBron-stopper” of sorts.
LeBron responded by averaging 24.5 points on 63 percent shooting in a four-game sweep where Miami won every game by at least 11 points.
Yeah, so much for that theory.
Once again, the Heat allowed the Bucks to hang around for the first 36 minutes before waking up and taking over. Miami held a four-point halftime lead and only a five-point lead heading into the third.
And yet, nobody for a second thought Milwaukee was going to steal this one. Even if it was in their house.
Milwaukee cut Miami’s lead to two with 9:34 remaining, but back-to-back threes from Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers–both off of LeBron assists–put the game away as the Heat extended their lead to eight.
Miami held Milwaukee to 36 points in the second half. Overall, the Bucks were held to 37 percent shooting, 27 percent shooting from the perimeter and forced into 15 turnovers.
They were supported by Monta Ellis’ 21 points (on 20 shots), 8 assists and 5 rebounds, but was held scoreless for the final six minutes.
The Bucks failed to score a point from the 6:16 mark of the fourth to the 1:38 mark. While that was happening, the Heat scored eight unanswered points.
Aiding the Heat in pulling away, once again, was Ray Allen.
Playoff-Ray, who finished with 13 points and hit 4-of-7 from three, has been a pleasure to watch in the postseason thus far. He had 13 three-pointers overall in the series and finished with a three-point percentage of 46 percent.
Ray has been excellent the past two games filling in for Wade, who sat out with knee trouble suffered during a 1-of-12 shooting performance in Game 3.
Also supporting was Udonis Haslem. He had the look of the Udonis Heat fans remembered prior to the foot injury that sidelined him for a majority of the 2010-’11 season.
He finished with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks, including a stretch where he scored nine of ten Miami points during a six minute period in the third. From there, however, it was LeBron who would end the quarter scoring the Heat’s final nine points.
Chris Bosh had only 10 points on only seven shots, but also contributed 5 rebounds and 4 blocks. Surprisingly, even in Wade’s absence, Bosh was featured in 28 minutes, 37 seconds.
He wasn’t needed. Both teams came in with the idea of Miami winning this series and ending Milwaukee’s season.
Miami now moves on to the semifinals where they will face the winner of the Chicago Bulls-Brooklyn Nets series, currently a 3-1 series lead in favor of the Bulls.