MIAMI (AP) — A banner bearing Dwyane Wade's jersey number hangs in the arena the Milwaukee Bucks call home, in tribute of his days as a standout at Marquette.
Suffice to say, he won't have favorite-son status over the next few days.
Wade and the Miami Heat are halfway to advancing in the NBA playoffs after topping the Milwaukee Bucks 98-86 on Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the teams' Eastern Conference first-round series. Wade scored 21 points, LeBron James finished with 19 and the Heat opened the fourth quarter on a 12-0 run to pull away.
Now comes a Wednesday flight to Milwaukee, followed by Game 3 there on Thursday night, when the Heat can take absolute control of the matchup. And Wade is certain that nothing will come easily, not even for the defending NBA champions.
"They're going to come out and play with emotion," Wade said. "I've been in Milwaukee when they've had playoff teams. I know that place can get very loud."
So can his current home arena, which roared for 2 minutes in the fourth quarter when the Heat finally shook off Milwaukee's upset bid.
It was 68-65 entering the fourth. With James and four backups on the court, the Heat needed only 2 minutes, 22 seconds to score a dozen unanswered points and stretch the lead to 80-65.
"We held court," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We protected it for two games. We did what we're supposed to do. And that's it."
Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Chris Andersen all scored 10 points for the Heat. James' postseason streaks of 22 straight games with at least 20 points, and 16 straight games of at least 25 points, both came to an end.
Ultimately, none of that mattered.
"We were able to jump on them," James said.
Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 points for Milwaukee, which got 16 from Mike Dunleavy and 14 from Larry Sanders. The Bucks' starting guards, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, combined for only 15 points — after teaming up to score 48 in Game 1.
"It's a series," said Sanders, who had a sore right ankle after a collision with Battier in the fourth quarter. "We made progress this game."
They'll need to make more, and do it quickly. James has never lost in 10 previous series in which his team takes a 2-0 lead, and Wade is 8-0 in that same situation.
He was a skinny kid who Miami drafted as a point guard in 2003, a couple months after he took Marquette to the Final Four. Three years later, he became an MVP of the NBA Finals. Now he's looking for his fourth trip to the title round in eight seasons.
To this day, he credits the help he got in Milwaukee for much of his success.
"I went to Milwaukee with not a lot of expectations, and I came out of Milwaukee the fifth pick in the draft," Wade said. "Milwaukee has been special to me. It has helped me get to this point. Going back there in the playoffs is a cool thing."
For a while on Tuesday, it looked as though Wade and the Heat might go to Milwaukee without a 2-0 series lead. It was that 12-0 run that was the difference — in what finished as a 12-point game.
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