What happened: The Miami Heat have recorded the first sweep of the Big Three era.
Forward LeBron James scored a game-high 30 points as the Heat beat the Milwaukee Bucks 88-77 Sunday at the Bradley Center to win the Eastern Conference first-round series 4-0.
The Heat, playing their third season with stars James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, were without Wade, who rested a sore right knee. But it didn’t matter as the Heat moved out to a double-digit lead midway through the fourth quarter and cruised to the victory.
It marked just the second playoff game Wade has missed in his 10-game career. The first one was when he sat out June 4, 2005, against Detroit in Game 6 of the East final due to a rib injury.
The turning point: Leading just 69-67 with 9 ½ minutes left in the game, the Heat suddenly turned it on.
A 3-pointer by guard Ray Allen, who had 16 points, upped the lead to 72-67. That started a game-closing 19-10 run.
The difference maker: With Wade out, James needed to take charge. That’s exactly what he did.
James shot 13 of 20 for his 30 points. He also totaled eight rebounds and seven assists.
James averaged 24.5 points in the series. He clearly was the team MVP.
What it means: Nobody expected the Heat would have that much trouble with the Bucks. But by sweeping them, they will get some valuable extra rest.
The soonest the Heat will play Game 1 of an East semifinal against Chicago or Brooklyn is next Saturday. The series wouldn’t begin until May 6 or 7 if the Nets, who trail the Bulls 3-1, can force a seventh game in the series.
The rest mostly should benefit Wade, who is still having problems with a bruised knee that resulted in him missing seven games late in the regular season.
What’s next: Game 1 of an East semifinal against the Nets or Bulls at AmericanAirlines Arena on a day to be announced.