Maybe he was envious of how dominant Kevin Durant was without his #2, so LeBron James went out without Dwyane Wade and didn’t let that really hurt him, leading the Miami Heat to another double digit win and earn their first playoff sweep in the Big Three era.
The Heat needed some time before they grabbed a hold of the game as the Milwaukee Bucks were fighting for dear life and against the prospect of heading into an early summer vacation and a very cloudy future regarding their lineup next season. But LeBron James took control early in the fourth quarter and put the game beyond doubt, leading to a 88-77 win and a 4-0 first round series sweep.
James took over the ball handling duties at that point, leading the team on a 14-5 run, opening a 14 point lead. The Heat were twice as efficient on offense in the final 9:25 of the game, including 50% from beyond the arc and turning the ball over only three times compared to 13 in the first three quarters as James played the point forward role, finishing with 30 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals.
Not a lot else was working on their offense during the day, with Chris Bosh finishing at 10 points on 4-7 from the field. Luckily, their defense was once again fantastic, keeping the Bucks on an average of 85.3 points per game, including only 37% from the field, including finishing the job on Brandon Jennings, scoring only 3 points (1-7 from the field), averaging only 8.8 in the series. He opened his mouth before it began, and was punished for it.
James led or shared the lead for his team in points, rebounds and assists for the 37th time in his career (playoffs-only), by far more than any other player in NBA history, with Larry Bird a distant second with 25. He is now averaging 30.2 points per game in 13 career road playoff contests in which his team had a chance to clinch the series, trailing only Michael Jordan (34.6) and Elgin Baylor (30.8).
As for the Heat, their extremely dominant run, losing only once since February 1, continued in a playoff series of four double digit wins. They are the sixth team to sweep a best of seven series by winning all four games in double digits, making it a third time for a LeBron James team, who had done it twice with the Cleveland Cavaliers, both in the same postseason of 2009 before losing in the conference finals.
They are also the third defending champions to win each of their first 4 playoff games by double digits, joining the 1985-86 Lakers and 1989-90 Pistons. The Piston repeated, the Lakers didn’t.
As for what’s next, the Bulls or the Nets, there’s no doubt Miami are hoping Brooklyn somehow come out as winners from that one, having beaten them three times during the regular season by an average of 21 points. Alas, the Bulls hold a 3-1 lead, and the teams split their season series at 2-2.
Words of wisdom from the losers? Be careful – They had the whole package. When you can afford to sit guy like Dwyane Wade and perform at the level they performed at, that’s a championship-caliber team.