Heat bump off Bucks 88-77 to reach Eastern Conference semi-finals
After getting treatment "around the clock" for two days, Dwyane Wade tested his aching right knee in warm-ups before Game 4. It still hurt.
"I could have pushed through it," he said. "But my teammates told me if it's hurtin', they got it." The Heat reminded everyone why they are heavy favourites to win a second straight NBA title.
Despite Wade being reduced to a spectator, Miami completed their sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks and advanced to the Eastern Conference semi-finals. The Heat never trailed in their 88-77 victory, finishing the first-round series with a fourth straight double-digit win.
LeBron James did most of the work with 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Ray Allen added 16 points, the third game in the series he reached double figures, and also had seven rebounds. Mario Chalmers had eight rebounds and six assists.
"We're a good basketball team. That's nothing that's a secret," Wade said. "We're not a one-man show, a two-man, a three-man [show]. We're a basketball team."
The Heat will not play again until Sunday morning (Hong Kong time) at the earliest, facing the winner of the Brooklyn-Chicago series. While the extended time off provides a much-needed break for Wade, who is still recovering from the three bone bruises that forced him to miss six games near the end of the regular season, this is no holiday for the Heat.
They will not spend the week lounging in South Beach or jetting off to some exotic location. They will be working, trying to get even better.
"That won't be a problem," James said. "We've got an opportunity to rest because we took care of business, but our business is not done. The only thing we guaranteed ourselves is the next round. That's it."
Though Milwaukee had chances to win games two and four late, and led game three by 10 in the first half, there was never a sense Miami would lose any of them. Any time the Bucks showed the slightest bit of momentum, the Heat were quick to snuff it out.
"They'd either make a big play or it was a turnover on our part," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "When you're playing against a quality team like Miami, you make some mistakes, they usually capitalise on them. And they did that."
Despite their star-studded roster, the Heat have little use for individual accolades or accomplishments right now. They have one goal in mind, and one goal only, and it will take the entire team to achieve it. "I'm glad to get this," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's the first step in our journey. Hopefully, a long journey."
At Boston, Jason Terry scored the Celtics' last nine points in the final 92 seconds of overtime to lift the hosts over the Knicks 97-90 and pull Boston within 3-1 in that series, whose winner will face Atlanta or Indiana. The Celtics forced a game five, although no team in NBA history has ever rallied to win a play-off series after losing the first three games.
"The spirit and heart of a champion is what kept us going," Terry said. "They made a great run at us. But we're not dead yet."