3:30 PM ET, April 28, 2013
BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
MILWAUKEE -- LeBron James can cross another item off his to-do list.
James scored 30 points, Ray Allen had another big game against his old team and the Miami Heat got their first playoff sweep in the Big Three era, advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals with an 88-77 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.
"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."
And now the Heat have some much-needed time to rest. Dwyane Wade sat out Sunday's game, only the second postseason game he's missed in his career, because of his aching right knee. But with Miami not playing until next Saturday, at the earliest, he'll have plenty of time to treat the three bone bruises that caused him to miss six games near the end of the regular season.
Miami plays the winner of the Brooklyn-Chicago series. The Bulls lead that series 3-1, with Game 5 on Monday night in New York.
"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."
Judging by the clinical way in which the Heat dissected the Bucks in this series, that isn't likely to be a problem.
Heat Not Bullish
It seems the Heat would prefer the Nets in the second round as they won all three meetings this season by an average of more than 20 points. Here is how the Heat fared against their two potential opponents this year:
|*7-4 vs. Miami over last 3 seasons|
-- ESPN Stats & Information
The defending NBA champions won each game by double digits, getting contributions from their stars and subs alike. Allen finished with 16 points, the third time in the series he scored in double figures, and was 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
"They had the whole package," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "When you can afford to sit guy like Dwyane Wade and perform at the level they performed at, that's a championship-caliber team."
But Milwaukee got almost nothing again from Brandon Jennings, who didn't even play in the fourth quarter. Jennings, who had guaranteed the Bucks would win the series in six games, finished with three points on 1-of-7 shooting.
After scoring 26 points in Game 1, Jennings had 27 total in the final three.
"Frustrated, a little down because I came into this season with so much confidence," he said. "I thought we had a chance to steal a game in Game 1, Game 2. We let that slip away from us. Game 3, we came back home. Had a 10-point lead, lost that. I mean it's frustration all around."
The Heat had chances to sweep their first-round series in each of the last two seasons, taking 3-0 leads on Philadelphia (2011) and New York (2012). But they couldn't close it out, losing Game 4 each year.
SportsNation: Heat sweep Bucks
For the first time in the "big three" era, the Heat completed a series sweep. Can they go unbeaten through the East playoffs? Vote!
That wasn't going to happen against the Bucks. Even with Wade reduced to a spectator.
Wade got treatment "around the clock" the last two days in hopes of playing Sunday, and he tested his knee before the game. But he and the Heat decided it wasn't worth risking aggravating the injury further, and he spent the entire game on the bench in his warmups.
"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.
That he did, adding eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals to his 30 points.
"We just space the floor and see if they can stop him. If not, he knows where we are," Allen said. "We just give him that room to operate."
The Heat led by as many as 11 in the first half, only to see the Bucks steadily chip away at the lead. When Mike Dunleavy drained a 3 and Ellis scored on a floater, it cut Miami's lead to 69-67 with 9:34 to play.
Ellis was fouled by Allen on the play, but he missed the free throw and James grabbed the rebound. He fed Allen, who knocked down -- what else, a 3. J.J. Redick missed a long 3 and James found an open Chalmers for another 3 that gave the Heat a 75-67 lead with 8:27 left.
The 3 was Chalmers' 80th in the postseason, tying Tim Hardaway's franchise record.
After Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made the second of two free throws, James scored on a layup. Redick made a jumper, but Shane Battier and Allen closed out the Bucks with a pair of 3s. James then converted a three-point play and added a layup to complete the 19-5 run -- a spurt in which he had a hand in every single Miami score.
"At some point during that stretch right there, he decided he was going to put his imprint on the game and he did. In a big way," Boylan said. "When you're a superstar player like he is, that's what superstar players do."
The Heat have won eight straight postseason games dating to last season. That matches the franchise record. ... NBA commissioner David Stern was in attendance. ... James scored 30 or more for the 54th time in the postseason, second only to Kobe Bryant among active players. ... Milwaukee had seven of its 16 turnovers in the first quarter. ... The Bucks are now 20-26 in elimination games. ... Packers LB Clay Matthews was at the game.
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 28: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute #12 of the Milwaukee Bucks arrives at the arena prior to Game...(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: After something of a slow start, LeBron James rallied to score 30 on 13-of-20 shooting for the 54th 30-point game of his playoff career. James added eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals to lead the Heat to the sweep.
LVP: Brandon Jennings had a lot to say before the series. It's reasonable to suspect he'll be quieter now that it's over. He scored just three points on Sunday and, after an 18-point eruption in the first half in Game 1, managed only 35 points on 11-of-43 shooting the rest of the series.
X factor: Dwyane Wade was held out of Game 4 with soreness in his right knee, and while the Heat might have missed a beat, they didn't miss many. Miami never trailed and held Milwaukee to 37 percent shooting en route to the Heat's first sweep since LeBron took his talents to South Beach.
With 9:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Heat held a five-point lead (72-67) over the Bucks and were on the wrong side of a 9-3 run. At that point, LeBron James took over as the team's primary ball handler, marking the turning point in the game. The Heat went on a 14-5 run, upped their lead to 14 points and sealed the series.[+]
Heat Offense, Sunday
Ray Allen was the primary beneficiary of Dwyane Wade's absence in Sunday's victory against the Bucks, scoring 16 points, including 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from behind the arc on catch-and-shoot shots.[+]
Ray Allen on catch-and-shoot shots vs. Bucks
LeBron once again led his team (or shared the lead) in points, rebounds, and assists, the 37th time in his career that he has done so in a playoff game.[+]
For the 6th time in NBA history, a team has swept a best-of-7 series while winning all 4 games by double digits. Three of the 6 times it's happened are by a LeBron James team. LeBron's Cavs swept through the first 2 rounds of the 2009 playoffs, winning each of the 8 games by double digits. Each of the previous teams to accomplish this feat lost in the Conference Finals.[+]
Swept Best-of-7 Series - Won All 4 Games by Double Digits
The Heat advance to the conference semifinals for the 3rd straight year and it seems like they'd have a preference for their next opponent. Miami took each of its 3 meetings against the Nets this season by an average of more than 20 points per contest whereas the Bulls have posted the best record against the Heat since LeBron came to South Beach.[+]
Heat Hoping for Nets Next - vs Potential Conf Semis Opp This Season
From Elias: LeBron has averaged more than 30 points per game in 13 career road playoff contests in which his team had a chance to clinch, the third-highest average in NBA history.[+]
The Heat are the 3rd defending champs to win each of their first 4 playoff games by double digits, joining the 1985-86 Lakers and 1989-90 Pistons.[+]
ESPN Stats & Information
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