7:00 PM ET, April 21, 2013
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
LeBron James flirts with triple-double as Heat blister Bucks in Game 1
It was not.
James scored 27 points on 9-for-11 shooting -- finishing two assists shy of a triple-double -- while Ray Allen scored 20 off the bench and the defending champion Heat picked up where they left off in the NBA playoffs a year ago, never trailing on the way to beating the Bucks 110-87 in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series.
"All I care about is the win," James said. "I didn't even know my stats. I just knew that we were playing efficient offensively besides the turnovers. We want to try to keep that going."
Dwyane Wade scored 16, Chris Bosh added 15 and Chris Andersen finished with 10 on 4-for-4 shooting for the Heat, who opened their title defense by holding Milwaukee to 42 percent shooting and outrebounding the Bucks 46-31.
Game 2 is Tuesday in Miami.
"We've got nothing to lose," Jennings said. "Nobody should be scared or anything. Let's just hoop."
James had taken only 11 shots in a playoff game twice before, and his postseason per-game average entering Sunday was just under 21 tries. But with the way he controlled the game Sunday, he didn't exactly need to shoot.
That's probably not the best of signs for the Bucks.
Who Needs A Triple-Double?
LeBron James failed to get a triple-double Sunday, but it was the 13th time he tallied 25 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in a playoff game -- the most ever by a player.
"Obviously, incredibly efficient," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "When you have a game like that, what can you do?"
Milwaukee came into the series with Jennings predicting his team would oust the reigning champions in six games.
They'll have to win four of five now for that to happen.
And with James playing like this, the odds would seem particularly slim. He had 10 rebounds and eight assists -- both game-highs. His assist total was only six shy of what the Bucks managed, combined.
"That's about as efficient as you can get," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Made that look easier than it was."
The 23-point margin notwithstanding, it was far from a perfect night for Miami. The Heat shot only 30 percent from 3-point range, plus turned the ball over 19 times -- giving Milwaukee 22 points -- and still won with ease.
Milwaukee had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, zero in the second half.
"I think we played good basketball in stretches," Ellis said. "They're a great team. They capitalized on our mistakes. I think they were more aggressive towards the end. In the third and fourth, they never looked back."
The Bucks said coming into Game 1 that they would brace for Miami to come out flying, and the Heat more than delivered on that expectation. Miami scored on its first five possessions and after back-to-back scores at the rim by James -- the first of those a vicious one-handed slam after Wade set him up on a 3-on-1 break -- the Heat were up 21-8 early.
Milwaukee settled down quickly, getting within 26-24 at the end of the first, with Jennings scoring 10 in the period. And the Bucks hung around for the remainder of the first half, with the Miami lead just 52-45 going into intermission.
"I thought in the first half we played with some good energy, had some good ball movement, created some turnovers and took advantage of that," Boylan said. "In the third quarter they came out a little bit more focused ... with a little more purpose, I think."
Ellis -- who compared himself to Wade earlier this season, saying he had everything the Heat guard had besides the wins and two championships -- opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, getting the Bucks within four.
Then came the second big Heat flurry of the night, and the Bucks had no more answers.
An 11-1 Miami run immediately followed that 3-pointer by Ellis, stretching the lead to 14, and the Heat were off and running. Miami closed the quarter with seven straight points -- James started that burst with a left-handed slam, then set up Andersen for another dunk. Another dunk by Andersen, this time when he soared in for a two-handed flush of a missed 3-pointer by Shane Battier, sent the building into overdrive, with people in the "White Hot" crowd waving their giveaway T-shirts in unison.
Anderson flapped his arms -- he's called "Birdman" for a reason -- and the Heat improved to an uncanny 40-3 when he plays.
"He brings us a lot of energy and effort plays," James said. "He flies above the rim and we're so happy to have him."
The fourth quarter took on a familiar feel as several Heat regular-season games did, with the only question being if James would get a triple-double, as he got in the clinching Game 5 of last season's NBA Finals.
He finished a bit short, and left with a broad smile.
"It's a great way to start the series," Bosh said. "They're a feisty team over there. We wanted to make sure that we played good on defense and keep doing what we've been doing."
Miami outrebounded Milwaukee 22-9 after halftime. ... The Heat stayed with what was their normal regular-season rotation, with Udonis Haslem starting and allowing Bosh to play more away from the basket -- which paid off by him making a pair of 3-pointers in the first 4 minutes. ... Rihanna was in attendance. ... Miami paid tribute to Army Spc. Eddie Romero before the game, continuing their tradition of welcoming a soldier who serves abroad back to South Florida. ... In Milwaukee's last trip to Miami, only Jennings was in double figures. This time, only Jennings and Ellis scored at least 10. ... Miami's bench outscored Milwaukee's reserves 43-25.
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 21: A view of the T-shirts given to fans during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals...(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: LeBron James finished with a cool 27/10/8 line, a game-high in each category; fell a pair of dimes shy of a triple-double; and missed just two field goals all night. One win down, 15 to go.
LVP: The pre-series consensus was that Ersan Ilyasova would have to elevate his game if the Bucks were to have any hope of even dodging a sweep. He didn't. The 44 percent 3-point shooter attempted just a single triple and finished with two points on 1-of-7 shooting.
That was a false prophecy: Brandon Jennings got sports' chattering classes a chatterin' when he predicted his sub-.500 Bucks would top the defending champs in six -- a feat that would require the Heat lose twice as many games as they have since the All-Star break. While the gunner scored a team-high 26 points, suffice it to say he's no Joe Namath.
LeBron James drove or caught the ball on the left side of the floor on 15 of his 36 plays Sunday. Five of his 8 assists, which led to 13 points, came when LeBron was passing from the left side of the floor.
The Heat have been playing lights out basketball since Super Bowl Sunday. During that span, they've won 38 of 40 games, outscoring opponents by nearly 11 points per game, shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 40 percent on 3-point attempts.[+]
Heat Streak - Miami Heat Since Feb. 3
LeBron James had at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in a playoff game for the 13th time in his career. That's the most 25-10-8 playoff games in NBA history. Next on the list is Oscar Robertson with 10, followed by Bird, Kareem and Magic. That's quite the Hall of Fame list with LeBron on top.[+]
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