Everyone in the Miami huddle was bracing for a grind to the finish. On the other end, the sense around the Milwaukee bench was that an upset was there for the taking.
Then Miami Heat landed a swift knockout punch.
Dwyane Wade scored 21 points, LeBron James finished with 19 and the Heat used a frantic start to the 4th quarter to pull away and beat the Milwaukee Bucks 98-86 in Game 2 of the teams’ Eastern Conference 1st-round series.
It was 68-65 entering the 4th. With James and 4 backups on the court, the Heat needed just 2 minutes, 22 seconds to outscore Milwaukee Bucks12-0 and stretch the lead straight to 80-65 – ensuring the reigning NBA champions would take a 2-0 series lead into Game 3 on Thursday night.
”We held court,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra claimed. ”We protected it for 2 games. We did what we’re supposed to do. And that is it.”
Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Chris Andersen all scored 10 points for the Heat. James’ postseason streaks of 22 straight games with at least 20 points, and 16 straight games of at least 25 points, both came to an end.
Ultimately, none of that mattered.
”We did not get into our game like we wanted to in that 3rd quarter,” James said. ”But we went into the 4th with a (3-point) lead and we were able to jump on them.”
Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 points for Milwaukee, which got 16 from Mike Dunleavy and 14 from Larry Sanders. The Bucks’ starting guards, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, combined for only 15 points – after teaming up to score 48 in Game 1.
”It’s a series,” said Sanders, who had a sore right ankle after he collided with Battier in the 4th quarter. ”We made progress this game.”
They’ll need to make more, and do it quickly. James hasn’t lost in 10 previous series where his team takes a 2-0 lead, and Wade is 8-0 in that same situation.
”In the playoffs you have got to find alternate ways to win,” Wade related. ”No matter what everyone says on the outside, (Milwaukee) is a good team. They played us really well.”
For about 46 minutes, Milwaukee Bucks played them even.
It was that 12-0 run that was the difference – in what finished as a 12-point game.
Andersen started it with a 3-point play, James had a layup not long afterward and the Heat was starting to roll. Another basket by Andersen off a pass from Ray Allen made it 77-65, and James found Norris Cole for a 3-pointer that capped the flurry and made it 80-65. Baseball betting lines
Just like that, it was over, even to Miami’s surprise.
”They were doing some things that had us spinning around a little bit defensively, got us on our heels, and offensively we never got into a rhythm,” Spoelstra said. ”So we figured we were just going to have to find how to grind in the 4th quarter, figuring it was going to be a close game.”