PHILADELPHIA -- The plans were set: Charles Barkley vowed to blow up the Spectrum if the Philadelphia 76ers lost their first-round playoff series to the Milwaukee Bucks.
In this city, such threats are taken seriously. But there will be no need to send in the dogs to sniff for explosives.
The 76ers defeated the Bucks, 121-100, last night to sweep the best-of-five National Basketball Association Eastern Conference playoff, 3-0. Barkley, his left leg protected by a brace that stretched from his shin to his upper thigh, was merely stupendous. He scored 30 points and had 12 rebounds and six assists.
"Everyone is making a big deal out of this," Barkley said. "All those so-called experts picked Milwaukee. But I felt like we should beat Milwaukee."
For the second year in a row, the 76ers advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Chicago Bulls. The best-of-seven series begins Saturday at Chicago Stadium.
"They've got Michael Jordan, but we've got Charles Barkley," Philadelphia center Manute Bol said. "They have to worry about us."
The 76ers, battered by injuries and unhinged by a rotating cast of 19 players during the regular season, came together magnificently during this playoff series. Their defensive pressure and balanced attack melted the Bucks.
"This is a very satisfying win," Philadelphia coach Jim Lynam said. "I thought we were aggressive, alert, and into it from the start. We played the type of game we wanted to play."
Hersey Hawkins attacked the Bucks from the outside with 26 points, and Armon Gilliam and Ron Anderson punched in 18 points each inside. Rick Mahorn and Andre Turner added 11 points each.
"In the playoffs there is definitely a different mind-set," said Hawkins, who had 10 rebounds. "We played every game like it was our last game. It paid off."
Alvin Robertson led the Bucks with 26 points. After losing the first two games of the series at home, the Bucks played the roles of willing victims in front of 16,239 spectators.
"Basically, we got whipped," Milwaukee coach Del Harris said.
It was Barkley who provided the finishing blows. He bullied taller, more timid opponents.
It was Barkley's dunks and finger rolls that ignited Philadelphia's 14-2 tear to a 55-39 lead at intermission.
Barkley again took control early in the fourth quarter. He dunked for four points, fed Bol for a three-point play, then led as Hawkins added a 20-foot jump shot for a 91-71 Philadelphia lead. Harris called time out, but it was too late.
"You bring your heart with you, you win a game," Bol said. "If you don't, you lose."
In the final minutes, the crowd chanted, "Sweep, Sweep."
"You really can't make a big deal out of this," Barkley said. "It's only one series. It's on the first series. We have a long, long way to go."