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NBA playoffs preview: Heat vs. Bulls

A look at the Eastern Conference semifinal series between Miami and Chicago.

May 06, 2013|By Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times
  • Heat forward LeBron James looks for an opening against Jimmy Butler and the Bulls defense during a game earlier this season.
Heat forward LeBron James looks for an opening against Jimmy Butler and… (Michael Laughlin / Sun Sentinel )

Eastern Conference semifinal

No. 1 Miami vs. No. 5 Chicago

Season series: Tied, 2-2.

Key stat: Miami held Milwaukee to 85.3 points per game in its first-round sweep of the Bucks.

Outlook: Chicago mucked things up for Miami in the regular season, ending the Heat's 27-game winning streak that fell only six games short of the NBA record. This isn't the regular season. This is the time of year when the Heat becomes unbearable, as evidenced by its romp over Milwaukee that was the closest thing the league had to a first-round bye. Miami is also enjoying the benefit of extra rest for Dwyane Wade's sore right knee, which kept him out of Game 4 against the Bucks. Wade is expected to play in the series opener against Chicago. Less certain is the status of the Bulls' Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich. Deng is questionable after undergoing a procedure to stop spinal fluid leakage that resulted from a recent spinal tap. Hinrich has not been able to run because of a bruised right calf that has sidelined him since Chicago's epic Game 4 victory over Brooklyn in the first round. With Derrick Rose probably sitting out the series, the Bulls will need Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah to play with even more fearlessness than normal and Nate Robinson to upstage his own stellar play against the Nets. As if LeBron James needed any more incentive to dominate, the Miami star will be playing for the first time since learning that one voter inexplicably picked Carmelo Anthony over him for the league's most-valuable-player award.

Prediction: The Rose updates will be put to rest soon enough. Heat in six.

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