The Miami Heat looked both dominant at times, and ordinary at other times in their two home wins against the Milwaukee Bucks to start the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, but now the series shifts to the Bradley Center on Thursday.
The defending champion Heat grabbed a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven set on Tuesday night with a 98-86 victory at American Airlines Arena.
As dominant as the Heat have been, that sort of display didn't come out Tuesday until the start of the fourth quarter. The Heat burst out with a 12-0 run to begin the final frame, turning a three-point lead into a 15-point margin, and that kind of advantage was way too much for the Bucks to overcome.
"It was a quick squirmish and an explosion," Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra said of the run.
Dwyane Wade was Miami's leading scorer with 21 points, but LeBron James once again enjoyed a spectacular all-around game. The reigning and presumptive MVP finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
The Heat got a boost from their bench as Shane Battier and Chris Andersen both had 10 points. Ray Allen and Norris Cole netted seven points apiece.
"The second unit came in with a great deal of energy," Spoelstra said.
Now the series shifts to Milwaukee. As they say, a playoff series doesn't start until a team wins on the road. This series may appear to be pretty lopsided, but that won't stop the Heat from focusing on Game 3.
"We know what the playoffs are and what to expect," Spoelstra said on Wednesday. "This will be a desperate, competitive response from them trying to defend their home court.
"There's nothing wrong with us coming in there with an incredible amount of desperation. It'll be a tough environment. That's why we're bracing ourselves for this competition tomorrow night."
The Bucks can take some solace knowing they have been in the first two games of this series. Milwaukee just can't seem to withstand Miami's one big run.
"In two games now, we seem to have a stretch of about 4-5-6 minutes where they kind of get away from us. We have to figure out how to keep that from happening and keep ourselves in the game," Bucks interim head coach Jim Boylan said.
Ersan Ilyasova rebounded from a horrid Game 1 with 21 points in Game 2 to lead the Bucks. Mike Dunleavy notched 16 off the bench, and Larry Sanders added 14, but it was a slow night for the vaunted Milwaukee backcourt.
Brandon Jennings scored eight points on 3-for-15 shooting, while Monta Ellis managed seven points on just seven shots.
The Bucks finished 21-20 at home this season, but one of those victories came against the Heat. Milwaukee dusted the defending champs, 104-85, in late December.
"I'm too excited," said Sanders. "I can't wait until our fans get in the building. I was thinking about it last night and today. I can't wait to get in there."
Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee.