LeBron led the Heat in each of the three major categories, scoring 27 points, pulling down 10 rebounds and doling out eight assists, nearly starting out the playoffs with a casual triple-double. I suppose that means he's on pace for a pretty silly playoffs.
Miami wasn't crisp. It turned the ball over a bit (19) and gave Milwaukee endless second-chance opportunities, but the Heat were still the far better team.
It was LeBron James who started things off for the Heat, scoring, rebounding and creating offense early on, and it's something he continued to do for the duration of the game.
The Heat ran out to a 13-point lead early on thanks to some vintage play from LeBron, but the Bucks weren't just going to roll over and die this early in the playoffs despite the bleak outlook.
Brandon Jennings, some sloppy play from the Heat and stellar work on the offensive glass by Milwaukee led to a 16-5 Bucks run to end the quarter.
The biggest problem was that it was evident early on that it was the "Monta and Brandon Show" for Milwaukee, and everybody else got their attempts vicariously through Ellis and Jennings.
Miami turned the ball over, gave the Bucks a ton of second chances and the Heat still took a seven-point lead into halftime.
With Chris Bosh stepping back to play from the three-point line, Larry Sanders was dragged out to the perimeter, and the Heat had plenty of opportunities throughout to get to the rim without fear of getting demolished.
For every small run that Milwaukee had, Miami had a slightly bigger one to counter it.
Ellis did have an effective third quarter, scoring 11 points on seven attempts, but his overall inefficiency killed the Bucks throughout the game to that point. He finished the game just 1-of-6 from the three-point line and 1-of-6 from the free-throw line.
A Ray Allen three and a few Chris Andersen dunks here and there gave the Heat a comfortable 15-point lead by the end of the third.
The fourth quarter was nothing but a coast-off, both Miami and Milwaukee realizing that the fate of the game was no longer in question.
The Birdman grabbed a few more highlight-reel dunks, and there was a bit of stat-padding along the way, but it was all but over within the first few minutes of the fourth quarter.
In the second half, Milwaukee stopped forcing turnovers and getting second chances (just two offensive rebounds in the second half), and it continued to struggle from the three-point line (7-of-26 for the night).
The result was an ugly finish for the Bucks, and an ugly outlook for the remainder of the series.
The Heat took a 12-4 lead in the first four minutes of the game, and everybody rightfully got down on the Bucks' chances.
And we're done here.— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) April 21, 2013
I'm gonna go ahead and say not Bucks in 6.— Eric Koreen (@ekoreen) April 21, 2013
Of course, once Milwaukee started to hit shots and forced a few turnovers, there was actually some semblance of a game at hand.
That was better than expected for the Bucks…Heat up 26-24 after the first quarter. Not too bad.— SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 21, 2013
While many of his teammates seemed tentative and even nervous at times, Brandon Jennings seemed to be playing for his next contract with 18 points in the first half.
Brandon Jennings' agent has worn out the keys on his third BlackBerry of the game from how hard he's texting Mark Cuban.— Sean Highkin (@shighkinNBA) April 22, 2013
LeBron James put us all on a triple-double alert in the third quarter, as he took over the point guard duties and did LeBron-like things.
LeBron James have it all.— Leigh Ellis (@LeighEllis) April 22, 2013
Spoiler alert: LeBron didn't finish with the triple-double, but it was still awesome.
Jim Boylan is putting Dunleavy on LeBron. He's tanking a playoff series.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 22, 2013
Miami put its foot on the throat of Jennings' prediction that the Bucks, undeterred by the fact that Miami had just won 66 games in the regular season, would win the series in six games.
Something tells me his prediction is going to end up being a bit off.
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