Heat Check: Miami uses big third quarter to finish off sweep
The Miami Heat obviously didn’t mind being left out of the national discussion concerning the competitiveness and unpredictability of the first round.
Whether it was the flicking of the "playoffs" switch after limping to the regular-season finish line, facing an already weaker opponent with an injured star player, or a combination of both, the Heat completed a sweep the Charlotte Bobcats with a 109-98 Game 4 victory at Time Warner Cable Arena on Monday night.
"Even though we’ve been through this … now this is our fourth year together … this does not get old," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We do not take it for granted having the opportunity to move on to another round."
The only team to sweep its opening series, Miami now awaits the winner of the Toronto-Brooklyn series that is tied 2-2. It appears the earliest the Heat would begin the Eastern Conference second round is Sunday.
"There’s advantages and disadvantages (to the rest)," Dwyane Wade said. "Obviously, we’re going to be professional and work on our individual selves and get in the gym as a team and do things. A disadvantage is you’re out of rhythm from not playing a game for a while."
LeBron James again led the Heat with 31 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. James limped noticeably through most of the third quarter after his right thigh collided with the knee of Charlotte’s Bismack Biyombo early in the period. He appeared to run better in the fourth quarter.
"The thigh is definitely sore," James said. "So fortunately, we were able to close out tonight and I can get some rest."
Chris Bosh had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Wade added 15 points. More importantly for the Heat, Wade got through the four games and appeared healthy after a season of knee and hamstring issues.
Point guards Mario Chalmers (10 points, five assists) and backup Norris Cole (13 points, four assists) combined for one turnover.
"I like the playoffs, it’s a totally different mode," Cole said. "I get more aggressive."
Chalmers had two turnovers in the series.
The Heat outscored the Bobcats 44-36 in the paint.
Charlotte played without center Al Jefferson, who suffered a plantar fascia injury in Game 1. He endured the pain to play in Games 2 and 3 and finished the series averaging 18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds.
Point guard Kemba Walker scored 29 points to pace the Bobcats, who never held a fourth-quarter lead in the series.
After trailing 54-52 at halftime, the Heat outscored the Bobcats 32-17 in the third quarter to open a 13-point advantage.
"We gave up 54 points in the first half, and we weren’t going to win a game like that, trying to outscore them," said Wade, who shot 49 percent in the series. "We really had to lock in defensively, and we did that and we were able to get a comfortable lead."
Charlotte pulled within seven points twice during the final 3:05 of the fourth quarter, but both times Bosh answered with jumpers.
The playoff series sweep was Miami’s fifth all-time.
THE TURNING POINT
Miami’s 20-6 run to end the third quarter.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
James once again. He averaged 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the series.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Heat forced 16 turnovers that resulted in 22 points.
The Heat will play the winner of the Toronto Raptors-Brooklyn Nets series. Time and date TBD.