Brandon Jennings might just have added fuel to the fire. While most of the Heat calmly took Jennings’ prediction to beat the Heat rather calmly, their on-court performance shows no signs of mercy. The defending champs put their game faces on as they disposed of the Milwaukee Bucks in their playoff opener. Miami played like a team on a mission, wasting no time or opportunity to pull away.
If there was a segment of Sunday’s Game 1 between the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks that best displayed why this should be a brief first-round series, it came in the very beginning. Sure, Chris Andersen’s hustle and LeBron James’ air show and Ray
Allen’s daggers in the second half created separation for Miami and raised the AmericanAirlines Arena volume to Finals-like decibels. But that was the after party. The real show, the one that makes this Miami Heat team the seemingly unstoppable force it is, was on display in the opening minutes. That’s when it became evident that the Bucks, with their array of pull-up, contested jumpers from undersized guards, would be no match for the smooth-flowing, Heat spread offense that would make even Chip Kelly proud. Miami jumped out to a 15-6 lead by tallying assists on its first six field goals, two of which were wide-open corner 3s from “center” Chris Bosh. The Bucks, who managed only three assists in the entire first quarter, countered from the very beginning withBrandon Jennings and Monta Ellis taking tough, often contested shots off the dribble. That Jennings and Ellis were able to hit enough of those difficult shots throughout the first half, along with Milwaukee’s knack for deflecting passes and forcing turnovers, only served to keep the score relatively close entering the third quarter. But with the Heat operating at their league-best level of efficiency, this was never going to be a true contest. And unless Jennings, Ellis and the Bucks find ways to at least mimic Miami’s willingness to share, it isn’t going to be a particularly competitive series, either. “This team is about getting great shots,” Dwyane Wade, who had a slightly off 5-of-12 shooting night, said. “If you don’t have it, hopefully someone else has a better shot. That’s what everyone bought into, and it feels good when you’re doing it.” Of course, it begins with James, whose 27 points came on an insanely efficient 9-of-11 shooting, his best shooting percentage in a postseason game. He added 10 rebounds and eight assists, but even LeBron will tell you it’s not just him that makes this Heat offense go.