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NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, May 13th (All times Eastern)
(1) Miami Heat (2-1) at (5) Chicago Bulls (1-2), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Miami Heat fought back, won Game 3 and can take a stranglehold on the series with a victory Monday night in Game 4 against the Chicago Bulls.
After Game 2 in Miami netted nine technical fouls and two Chicago ejections, Game 3 on Friday was tamer, but not without incident.
Nazr Mohammed of Chicago ran down LeBron James on a fast-break and wrapped him up to stop a breakaway layup. James swatted him away and was whistled for a technical foul, but then Mohammed got up and shoved James to the floor.
Mohammed received a technical and an ejection.
"From my angle, I just saw a guy basically flop," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, referring to the league's MVP. "I'm going to leave it at that. I don't think it warranted an ejection. I understand flagrant foul. Understand that. Ejection no."
There was an incident involving Chris Andersen and Nate Robinson, but it was Bulls center Joakim Noah who earned the "T." He came in and gave a two-handed push to Andersen, who appeared to retaliate. However, it was Noah who received the only technical foul.
"It's an emotional game," said Noah. "Just lost the battle; we did not lose the war. A lot of basketball left."
Noah's words are true, but Friday's game was there for the Bulls to take and take a 2-1 series lead. The game was tied 70-70 after three quarters, but Miami outscored Chicago, 34-24, in the final frame.
What made the game even more ripe for the taking was the somewhat subpar performance from James. Yes, he finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, but he only shot 6-for-17 from the field.
"I didn't shoot the ball like I've been shooting all year," James said. "My teammates look for me to make plays no matter if I'm shooting the ball well or not. There were a couple of times in the fourth quarter I settled for a couple of jumpers late in the clock."
James still finished with 12 of his 25 in the fourth quarter.
The real heroes for the Heat were Chris Bosh and Norris Cole. Bosh had 20 points and 19 rebounds and Cole came off the bench for 18 points in just over 24 minutes of action.
"If CB (Bosh) rebounds like that, we're a dangerous team," said James. "For him to have 19 rebounds and for Norris to come off the bench and defend like he did and contribute offensively with a big time drive in the fourth and a big time three as well, those two guys are the reason we won the game."
The Bulls once again went to battle without Derrick Rose, despite some unfounded Internet chatter that he would finally make his season debut in Game 3. Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich both sat as well. Their availability for Monday's contest is unknown, although expectations are that both will still be shelved.
Carlos Boozer led Chicago in scoring on Friday with 21 points. Robinson and Jimmy Butler, who once again played all 48 minutes, had 17 apiece, followed by 16 from Marco Belinelli. Noah fouled out, but registered a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.
With all of these injuries and heavy minutes, perhaps the Bulls are getting tired.
"I don't think fatigue is a factor," Boozer said.
The onus is now on Chicago to adjust and try to knot this series.
"When you play this team you have to have a lot of mental, physical, and emotional toughness," Thibodeau said of the defending champions. "Things are not going to go your way. We're not going to get calls. That's the reality. We've still got to find a way to get it done. And we will."
Game 5 is back in Miami on Wednesday night.
05/13 10:37:50 ET