LeBron James finished the night just shy of a triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. James was dominant on the court, picking and choosing his shots as he finished going 9-for-11 from the field.
Dwyane Wade started off slow, but ended the game with 16 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Chris Bosh was versatile or Miami, hitting three of his four 3-point field goal attempts while scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
For Milwaukee, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis each scored over 20 points while trying to keep the Bucks afloat. Jennings had 22 points on 19 field goals and only three assists. Ellis scored 26 points, but went only 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. The back court duo had 46 of the Bucks 87 points.
The Heat's playoff run started with an exclamation point, with James gobbling up an offensive rebound on the first possessions and dishing it out to Chris Bush for an emphatic dunk for the Heat's first points of the postseason. The following play for the Heat, a steal form Wade that turned into an and-1 layup for James, could have been the dot at the bottom of that punctuation mark. Or, tidying all of the dominant start that was a 10-2 run for Miami capped off by a 3-point field goal from Bosh could do the trick.
In short, the Heat were ready to not only defend their title from the keep, but set out on the path to their castle and lay waste to their opponents. By the time the Bucks called their first timeout, they were in a 19-8 hole with six minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Bucks pushed back out of the timeout though, cutting the lead down to six and firing up an 7-0 run and not laying down to the Heat's aggressive start. Jennings and the Bucks kept plucking away at the lead through the first quarter. Ultimately, the Bucks ended the first frame of their playoff series with the Heat on a 16-5 run and only down two, led by Jennings' 10 points.
The second quarter didn't start off with the type of energy at the tip of the game as both teams struggled to score the ball. With 9:20 left in the second quarter, both teams combined for only six points. Milwaukee kept the game close through the second, shrinking the margin between the teams down to two, but were never able to capitalize while the Heat's offense sputtered, plagued with turnovers.
Still, Milwaukee hung around while the Heat were unable to deliver an early knockout blow. Jennings was tops in scoring in the game at halftime with 18 points in the first half. James had 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists -- but more importantly -- a seven-point lead going into the half as the Heat led the Bucks 52-45. Wade had only six points at the half, while Bosh put in 10.
Ellis opened up the second half with a 3-point field goal and immediately brought the Bucks back into striking distance with a four point differential. Milwaukee would never come any closer to victory through the remainder of the game, as the Heat responded with an 9-0 run, pushing their lead back up to double digits and never looked back. Wade came alive in the third after a quiet first half, finishing with six points in the quarter, matching his first half output.
The Heat cruised through much of the third quarter as the Bucks were strung along. The Bucks again cut the lead down to single-digits again, but after a James steam train one-handed dunk, and a Chris "Birdman" Andersen dunk that caused Kevin Harlan to lose his mind for one of the best calls thus far in the playoffs, and the Heat had recaptured the momentum all over again.
By the fourth quarter, the Heat were a train moving full speed through the Bucks, and there was no stopping Miami. The Heat were able to sub out James and Wade for an early exit while Miami watched the remaining three minutes tick away. The Bucks did well hanging in till the third quarter, but the Heat were too much, and Miami started off their playoff run on the right foot.
With game one in the books, the Heat and Bucks meet for game two in Miami on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.