Maybe it was Brandon Jennings with his deceleration that the Milwaukee Bucks will win the series, or maybe it’s the fact that the Miami Heat and LeBron James are too good for almost anyone in the NBA right now, especially the team they’ve been paired up with to open their title-defense playoff run.
Over the last 40 games, beginning after Super Bowl Sunday which the Heat almost missed because of plane they had to catch, Miami are 38-2, winning by nearly 11 points per game, shooting 50.5% from the field and 40.5% from beyond the arc. They have a clear superstar, but this is a team that’s pushing forward at full speed, steamrolling over anyone who gets in the way.
James was obviously the big star of the show, as the Heat kept on a steady pace for the entire game while the Bucks, having only Ellis and Jennings (combining for 48 points), withered as the game went on, not being able to keep up. It ended in a 110-87 win for the Heat, winning all four quarters.
James nearly had a triple double, finishing with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists, his 13th career playoff game of at least 25-10-8, more than anyone else in NBA history, followed by Oscar Robertson with 10. Larry Bird is next with 9, followed by Kareem and Magic, both with 8 such games. James, however, would like to have the title rings Bird, Magic and Jabbar have on their fingers.
James simply couldn’t make mistakes on the game, finishing with 9-11 from the field, adding 8 more points from the line, simply driving to the basket almost every time he got his hands on the ball. He drove or caught the ball on the left side of the floor on 15 of his 36 plays; five of his 8 assists, which led to 13 points, came from that side of the floor.
And the Heat simply followed with a smile, giving the best basketball player in the world the right kind of support. Ray Allen took more shots than anyone on the floor, finishing with 20 points despite a bad night from beyond the arc, going 2-8. The Heat were doing so well, winning the rebounding battle and shutting down the Bucks while Jennings and Ellis tried to make things happen on their own, they didn’t need lights out shooting from the outside or to even win the turnover battle, giving up the ball 19 times.
Dwyane Wade was quiet with 16 points while Chris Bosh did a solid job in the paint with 15 points and 7 rebounds. There was no need for anyone but LeBron to standout, as Chris Andersen exploded in the second half with a few alley oop passes and dunks, putting up 10 points and 7 rebounds during his 16 minutes on the floor.
While the Heat are bound to cool down at some point, it’s hard to see the Bucks being the cause for it. While Ellis and Jennings can score points, it doesn’t really matter. They got absolutely nothing from everyone else, including Ersan Ilyasova with only 2 points and just 6 from J.J. Redick coming off the bench and looking cold and blunt with every shot he took. At this rate, and with his kind of basketball, this is going to be a sweep without any sort of fight being put up.