MILWAUKEE (AP) – 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 Miami Heat reminded everyone Sunday why they’re heavy favorites to win a second straight NBA title.
Despite Wade’s being reduced to a spectator, the Heat completed their sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Heat never trailed in their 88-77 victory against the Bucks, 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.
The Heat won’t play again until Saturday, at the earliest, facing the winner of the Brooklyn-Chicago series which became tied 2-2 Monday night.
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 vacation for the Heat. They won’t be spending the week lounging in South Beach or jetting off to some exotic location.
They’ll be working, trying to get even better.
Miami knew they would get a spirited effort Sunday from the Bucks, who were hoping to extend their first playoff appearance in three years even if it was only for a few more days.
But James was even more determined.
Though Milwaukee had chances to win Games 2 and 4 late and led Game 3 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.
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 after ther victory over the Bucks. “It’s the first step in our journey, hopefully, a long journey.”
This was the first time the Heat have swept a playoff series since James and Chris Bosh came to Miami three years ago.