Nearly every time LeBron James touched the ball Sunday, he scored.
James finished with his most efficient playoff performance, shooting 9 of 11 from the field to finish with a game-high 27 points.
His first 19 touches in the game resulted in 28 Heat points. And his efficiency in contrast to an overmatched Bucks’ squad reliant on volume shooting allowed the Heat to continue to dominate the series between the two teams and win the opener of this series with relative ease.
“He really let the game come to him,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He facilitated quite a bit for us. He was creating triggers a lot of times by setting screens and generated a lot of offense just by doing that. It was a very mature, high-IQ game. That’s about as efficient as you can get. He made that look easier than it was.”
James, who also collected 10 rebounds and delivered eight assists, entered these playoffs with a 28.5 playoff scoring average — the highest among active NBA players. Despite the performance, James saw room for improvement.
“We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we’re capable from the outside, but we did finish with 22 assists, and we rebounded the ball well,” James said. “We know we can play a better game.”
James was at the forefront of another efficient shooting game by the Heat overall against the Bucks, a team it has outperformed in that category four times in five meetings this season.
The Bucks’ guard tandem of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis combined for 48 points. The duo shot a combined 18 of 39, and the Bucks shot 34 of 82 (41.5 percent) as a team.
The Heat, however, shot 55.9 percent (38 of 68).
The Heat was the most-efficient shooting team in the NBA during the regular season at 49.6 percent. The Bucks finished the season ranked 28th at 43.5 percent.
The Heat shot better than the Bucks in three of the four regular-season meetings, one of those even being its only loss to Milwaukee when it outscored Miami by 21 points in the fourth quarter on Dec. 29.
Chris Bosh’s sharp shooting didn’t allow Bucks center Larry Sanders — the NBA’s second-highest shot-blocker during the regular-season (2.8 per game) — to present a problem Sunday.
Bosh drew out Sanders from the paint early with a couple of quick three-pointers in the first quarter. Bosh hit another early in the third and finished shooting 5 for 7 overall to for 15 points.
“It wasn’t anything different than what we’ve done before,” Bosh said. “My teammates find me, and I’m going to shoot it. They just went in more today.”
Sanders picked up three fouls in the first half and a quick fourth in the third quarter leading to his exit to the bench with 9:51 left in the quarter. Sanders finished with only six points and didn’t block a shot.
“Bosh’s threes early energized everybody,” Chris Andersen said. “I think it also really opened up the paint for us.”
Andersen came off the bench and made all four of his shots and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Wade, who is coming off the most efficient shooting regular season of his career (52.1 percent, 21.2 points per game), was the only Heat starter who shot less than 50 percent (5 of 12). But it didn’t hurt much as he finished with 16 points and went 6 of 8 from the free-throw line.