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Heat 110, Bucks 87

The SportsXchange

MIAMI - The Miami Heat began defense of their NBA championship with a 110-87 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in a first-round playoff opener Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Game Two in the best-of-seven series is set for Tuesday night in Miami.

LeBron James led the Heat with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He made 9 of 11 shots from the floor, including 1 of 2 on 3-pointers.

Ray Allen had 20 points, Dwyane Wade added 16 points, and Chris Bosh had 15 points.

Miami pulled away gradually, leading by two points after one quarter, seven points at halftime and 15 points after three.

The Heat made plays when they needed to, and a perfect example came late in the third period, when Miami had the ball out of bounds with 1.1 seconds left on the shot clock. Even with such little time, the Heat still got a three-pointer from Ray Allen.

Miami was also more efficient than Milwaukee, posting better shooting percentages from the floor (56 percent to 42) and the foul line (82 percent to 60).

The Bucks' guards, Brandon Jennings (26 points) and Monta Ellis (22 points), outscored their counterparts, Wade and Mario Chalmers, who combined for 23 points.

Jennings, the Bucks' point guard, had predicted his team would win this series in six games. That is still theoretically possible, but the Bucks have much work to do to pull off the massive upset.

The Heat led 52-45 at halftime, but Milwaukee played well after falling behind by 13 points early.

The Heat stormed to a 7-0 lead on a James rebound and assist to Bosh for a dunk, a Wade alley-oop to James for a three-point play and a layup by Udonis Haslem.

Miami stretched its first-quarter lead to 13 points, but the Bucks closed the half with a 16-5 run. Jennings led all scorers at the half with 18 points.

NOTES: VegasInsiders.com rates the Heat as an overwhelming 1-6 favorite to win the Eastern Conference and a 1-2 pick to repeat as NBA champs. ... While the Heat enter the playoffs having won 37 of their past 39 games, the Bucks have prevailed in just six of their past 21. ... The Bucks played the Heat well in two early meetings, a 104-85 win and an overtime loss. But the Heat controlled the two more recent matchups. ... Chris "Birdman" Andersen posted the best regular-season win-loss record in the league (39-3) among players with at least 40 appearances. Heat President Pat Riley revealed Friday that coach Erik Spoelstra had pestered him repeatedly to sign Andersen -- until he got his way. ... Riley also said he was optimistic the Heat's Big Three of James, Wade and Bosh will opt to extend their contracts with Miami after next season. "I would love to see them end their careers here, hang their numbers and be the godfathers to each other's children," Riley said. ... The Bucks were 16-16 this season before coach Scott Skiles stepped down. They finished just 22-28 under interim coach Jim Boylan, who will likely need a big series against Miami to return next season. ... Wade became the fifth NBA shooting guard in the past 30 years to average at least 20 points and shoot at least 52 percent in the regular season. He joins Michael Jordan, Andrew Toney, Rolando Blackman and Monta Ellis. ... Spoelstra had said he was unsure if he would start Haslem or Shane Battier at forward. In a game-time decision, Haslem, who has been starting since mid-December, got the nod over Battier, who was a starter during the Heat's playoff run to the NBA title last season.
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