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Heat will have time to rest after sweeping Bobcats

April 29, 2014

The Miami Heat earned a little extra rest and relaxation after completing a four-game sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats with a 109-98 victory in the NBA playoffs on Monday.

With Toronto and Brooklyn tied at 2-2 in their series, it could be until Sunday before Miami knows its second-round opponent. That would mean at least a week off for the two-time defending NBA champions.

“I’m sure our guys will love it, but the most important thing is that we have the chance to move on,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Miami is the only team that can say that.

No other NBA team has closed out its opponent, and only the Heat swept their series.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” Spoelstra said. “Some people that are cynical may look at this as a 2-7 (seed) matchup and say they were supposed to win 4-0. It’s not working that way in this league. ... We understand how tough it is to win in this league.”

It’s the second straight year the Heat swept their opening-round series.

“We have been here before, we have learned some lessons from last year, and that is the best part of it,” Chris Bosh said. “We will handle it better this time.”

Dwyane Wade will have a chance to rest sore knees and a tight hamstring. And LeBron James can ice up his thigh contusion after scoring 31 points as Miami won its 20th straight game over Charlotte.

The Bobcats played without Al Jefferson, their leading scorer and rebounder who has been bothered by a foot injury since the first quarter of Game 1.

Atlanta’s Mike Scott made five 3-pointers during a 30-6 second-quarter run and the Hawks’ defense fended off a furious fourth-quarter charge to hold off the top-seeded Indiana Pacers 107-97 to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Hawks can complete one of the most unexpected playoff upsets in NBA history at home on Thursday.

Scott’s performance was like a bolt out of the blue.

After scoring just 30 points in the first four games, he knocked down four straight 3s early in the second quarter and then closed the decisive 30-6 run with the last of his five 3s to give the eighth-seeded Hawks a commanding 48-27 lead.

It’s a shocking twist in the East, a conference that most expected to come down to an epic Pacers-Heat rematch in the conference finals. To have any chance now, the Pacers need to win two straight, something they haven’t done with their regular starters since mid-March.

The Hawks, meanwhile, continued to decimate the Pacers’ defense with the spread offense, especially in a record-breaking second quarter.

At Dallas, Manu Ginobili scored 23 points and Boris Diaw hit a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute as the San Antonio Spurs held off a second-half surge by Dallas to win 93-89 and level their series.

The Spurs regained the home-court advantage by getting a split of two games in Dallas, matching what the eighth-seeded Mavericks did in San Antonio.

The Spurs led by 20 points in the third quarter before the Mavericks pulled even midway through the fourth quarter. Diaw hit from long range over Dirk Nowitzki at the top of the key for a 90-87 lead.

Nowitzki had 19 points and was held under 20 in a fourth straight playoff game for the first time since his first postseason in 2001.

Game 5 is on Wednesday in San Antonio.

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