The Heat was led by LeBron James, who had one of his most proficient performances of his playoff career, going 9-for-11 from the field. James scored 27 points, snatched 10 rebounds and finished with eight assists, which was two assists shy of a triple-double.
“All I care about is the win,” James said. “I didn’t even know my stats. I just knew that we were playing efficient offensively besides the turnovers. We want to try to keep that going.”
Dwyane Wade finished with 16 points, while Chris Bosh contributed 15. But the Heat bench provided a major spark for the team while James, Bosh and Wade rotated in and out. Ray Allen came off the bench to score 20 points and Chris Andersen finished with 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting.
However, the backcourt duo of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis attempted to keep the Bucks in the game. Jennings, who predicted that the Bucks would defeat the reigning champions in six games, finished with 26 points and Ellis added 22 for the Bucks.
“We’ve got nothing to lose,” Jennings said. “Nobody should be scared or anything. Let’s just hoop.”
If James and the Heat continue to hoop the way they did Sunday night, then the Bucks could find themselves swept by the defending champions. The Heat held Milwaukee to 42 percent shooting and out-rebounded the Bucks 46-31.
“Obviously, incredibly efficient,” Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. “When you have a game like that, what can you do?”
Milwaukee will now need to regroup and win four of five now to make Jennings prediction come to fruition.
“I think we played good basketball in stretches,” Ellis said. “They’re a great team. They capitalized on our mistakes. I think they were more aggressive towards the end. In the third and fourth, they never looked back.”
The Bucks never led throughout the entire game. The closest they came was within in two points at the end of the first quarter with score 26-24. The Bucks managed to keep the game close through the second quarter, with Miami leading 52-45 heading into halftime.
But the Heat managed to turn up their intensity after intermission and went on a 11-1 run, which stretched the lead to 14 after a 3-pointer by Ellis. The Bucks could not seem to find an answer for the Heat’s offensive onslaught.
The Bucks will have a chance to steal a game from the Heat on Tuesday night in Game 2, which would provide a considerable amount of momentum as they head back to Milwaukee.