A fierce response was what the Miami Heat expected.

And for nearly three quarters, that's what they got.

For a second straight game, it was a strong finish by the Heat that proved the difference.

The Heat rallied from a second-half deficit to defeat the Milwuakee Bucks 104-91 Thursday at Bradley Center to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"We had to fight for this one," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "(Milwaukee) came out with a great deal of intensity like we expected."

The Heat once again did it behind forward LeBron James, who finished with 22 points, six assists and five rebounds. He and guard Ray Allen's 23 points, including five 3-pointers, were enough to hold off the Bucks despite subpar games from Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

Bosh and Wade combined for just 20 points on 8 of 26 shooting. The performance from Wade will almost certainly raise more questions about his health. He scored just four points, going a playoff-worst 1 of 12 from the field. He appeared to aggravate the sore right knee after falling hard in the first quarter. Wade did finish with 11 assists, nine rebounds and five steals.

"I had to do other things," Wade said. "It's the playoffs. I wasn't feeling great but I did other things."

Even without him at full strength, it didn't matter.

Not on this night. Not with the Heat getting another strong effort from James, clutch shooting from Allen and another solid game off the bench from center Chris Andersen (11 points).

The Heat had more than enough to move one game from facing either the Chicago Bulls or Brooklyn Nets in the second round. Before that happens, they must defeat the Bucks Sunday.

A win would mark the first time this Heat team has swept an opponent in the postseason. They started the past two years by winning three straight games only to lose in their first opportunity to clinch the series.

"This is our next step in our development," James said. "…We didn't close out those series. I think it's important to close them (the Bucks) out because it's our next game. It's going to be different. But we come in with the same mind set or even more desperate."