by Cass Waters
Everyone in the Miami huddle was bracing for a grind to the finish. On the other end, the sense around the Milwaukee bench was that an upset was there for the taking.
Then the Heat landed a swift knockout punch.
Dwyane Wade scored 21 points, LeBron James finished with 19 and the Heat used a frantic start to the fourth quarter to pull away and beat the Bucks 98-86 in Game 2 of the teams’ Eastern Conference first-round series on Tuesday night. Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Chris Andersen all scored 10 points for the Heat. James’ postseason streaks of 22 straight games with at least 20 points, and 16 straight games of at least 25 points, both came to an end.
Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 points for Milwaukee, which got 16 from Mike Dunleavy and 14 from Larry Sanders. The Bucks’ starting guards, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, combined for only 15 points — after teaming up to score 48 in Game 1.
And for the entirety of the third quarter, the Bucks hung around, though the Heat showed some signs of getting things going. Bosh had a dunk for a six-point lead, then made a jumper — on a play that James started by running down a loose ball and flicking it between his legs for a save along the sideline — for a 68-60 lead, what was then the biggest Heat margin of the night.
The Bucks got within 68-65 to end the third, but then came the run that Miami had been waiting for all evening.
It’s the 11th time the Heat have gone up 2-0 in a playoff series. They’re 10-0 in the previous instances. … Milwaukee has lost 21 of its last 29 playoff games. … Sanders was third in the NBA’s Most Improved Player voting, behind Indiana’s Paul George and New Orleans’ Greivis Vasquez. “Look where he was last year and where he is today. The improvement is very obvious,” said Boylan, who thought Sanders should have won. … Jennings was held without a first-half basket for only the fifth time all season.