The reigning NBA champion Miami Heat opened their playoff campaign in regal style on Sunday with a wire- to- wire 110-87 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
LeBron ‘King’ James fell two shy of a triple- double, scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds with eight assists as the Heat drew first blood in the best- of- seven Eastern Conference first- round series.
Ray Allen scored 20 points; Dwayne Wade added 16 and Chris Bosh chipped in 15 for the Heat, who carried their strong form of the second half of the regular season seamlessly into the playoffs.
The Heat had been on a record 30-2 since the all star break, the best second-half winning percentage in NBA history.
Their league- leading regular season record of 66-16 included a 27- game winning streak and assured them of home- court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Milwaukee limped into the playoffs as the eighth seeded team in the East, playing against the Miami Heat was an uphill task as the Heat showed they intended to put the advantages they’ve earned to good use.
They out- rebound the Bucks and held them to a 42% shooting.
For James the Heat could do better as the playoff season will soon enter its most difficult games.
“We know we can play a better game,” James said. “We didn’t play our best game. We didn’t shoot the ball like we’re capable of doing from the outside. But the only thing that we did do was we shared the ball once again. We had 22 assists and we rebounded the ball, too.”
The Heat blazed from the jump- start with an early nine- point lead and led by as many as 25 points in the second half.
“They came out in the second half on a mission,” said Bucks centre Larry Sanders. “They picked their intensity up and we fell short a little bit. They played with a lot of intensity tonight on both ends. They attack on the defensive end and offensive end. We just have to attack and keep our composure.”
Brandon Jennings scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half for Milwaukee. Monta Ellis added 22 for the Bucks, which remained without a win in an opening game of the playoff series since May of 2001. They’ll try to bounce back in game two on Tuesday.
The game was one of Eastern Conference first- round series openers played on Sunday. In the other game, Indiana Pacers defeated Atlanta Hawks 107-90.