The Miami Heat earned themselves plenty of time to prepare for the second round of the playoffs after dealing the Charlotte Bobcats a fourth straight loss to wrap up their first-round sweep.
LeBron James scored 31 points on 10-19 shooting to fire the Heat into a second round series that may not start for another week assuming Brooklyn and Toronto go the distance.
The win made it nine consecutive playoff series wins for Miami and sent them to a 16-2 record in the first round since LeBron’s arrival.
Chris Bosh chipped in 17 points and Dwyane Wade 15 as the Heat handed the Bobcats, shorn of their leader and leading scorer Al Jefferson with a plantar fascia injury.
Despite the setback, the Bobcats competed throughout, Kemba Walker scoring 29 points and missing just four of his 15 shot attempts.
The Heat took command of the game midway through the third quarter, shortly after LeBron took a scary knock to the thigh and had to come out of the game.
Upon returning, however, he scored first on a three-pointer before converting a long jumper and a dunk to show the world that he was just fine. James had 19 of his 31 after his injury scare and 11 in the final quarter as he exploited a clear mismatch against Gerald Henderson, routinely taking the smaller man to the rim.
Charlotte was careless with the ball which ultimately proved their undoing, as it has done all series. They have played the Heat straight up, refusing to bow to the expected sweep. Turnovers and a lack of outright talent finished them off in the end. They had 16 turnovers in the finale, leading to 22 points for the Heat, many on easy looks as the Heat continue to be the best fast-break team in the league.
Miami can now turn their eyes to the Raptors and Nets and their struggle to deal with each other while the Heat’s players rest up. If that series runs to seven games, Game 7 would be played on Sunday, delaying the start of the Heat’s second-round series until at least the middle of next week.
LeBron James: 30 points, 10-19 FGS, 9 assists
Chris Bosh: 17 points, 7-12 FGS, 8 rebounds
Dwyane Wade: 15 points, 5-11 FGS
Kemba Walker: 29 points, 11-15 FGS, 5 rebounds, 5 assists
Gary Neal: 16 points, 8-19 FGS
Chris Douglas-Roberts: 14 points, 3-3 FGS, 2-2 3 FGS, 6-6 FTS
Miami Heat advances to the second round