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After two games in the Eastern Conference Finals, we’re down to a best of five, as both the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat have won a game apiece. We’re back with our NBA picks for pivotal Game 3 in South Beach on Sunday night.
NBA Playoffs Preview: Chicago Bulls @ Miami Heat Game 3
Date: Sunday, May 22nd, 8:30 ET
Location: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
Game Line: Miami -5
Bulls Notes: Head Coach Tom Thibodeau hopes that a few days off gives his team legs again after playing absolutely horrifying ball in the second half against the Heat on Wednesday. To Chicago’s credit, it did have to claw back to tie up the score late in the fourth quarter, but in essence, it was just run right off of the court in the back half of the fourth quarter. There wasn’t a starter on the court that had a positive +/- for the game. Derrick Rose, the league’s MVP had a horrendous shooting night and never really looked the part of the best player in the NBA. He only went 7-of-23 and was clearly outplayed by the Big 3 for the Heat. He had 21 points to go with eight assists and six rebounds, five of which came on the offensive end. Luol Deng scored 13 points, but he and the rest of the bigs were really kept off of the glass as well. Carlos Boozer had just seven points and eight rebounds, while Joakim Noah had nine points and eight boards. The bench had its moments, but the disappearance of Kyle Korver has been harmful in this series. He only went 1-of-7 from the field and 1-of-5 from downtown. Korver was only a part of the problem though, as the whole team shot just 34.1 percent from the field and 15.0 percent from downtown. Even from the foul line, Chicago couldn’t help its own cause, going 16-of-26 (61.5%). The biggest problem was getting outrebounded though, and that was in spite of the fact that the Bulls had 17 offensive rebounds on the day.
Heat Notes: LeBron James has officially taken over. He was the man down the stretch that put the Bulls away, and he ended the night with 29 points and 10 rebounds to go with a team high five assists. Sure, he turned the ball over five times as well, but aside from that, the rest of his game was impeccable. Dwyane Wade did fantastic as well running the show from the guard spot. He scored 24 points and had nine rebounds, shooting 8-of-16 from the floor. He also only turned the ball over once, which more or less offset the fact that he had just two assists. The big man of the hour in Game 2 was Udonis Haslem. Again, we’ve always said that someone else would have to step up to help the “Big 3” do their thing, and Haslem was just what the doctor ordered. He scored 13 points and had five rebounds, and though it clearly wasn’t the greatest effort in the world, it was certainly good enough to really aid the rest of the crew. Even Mike Miller, a man who has been criticized all season long, came up with seven big time rebounds in 19 minutes of work. The team definitely has some room for improvement though, as the Heat shot just 23.1 percent from beyond the arc. The offense for Head Coach Erik Spoelstra hasn’t scored even 90 points in its last four games against the Bulls, and that really isn’t going to ultimately get the job done in this series in all likelihood.
The Final Word: Chicago is going to have its work cut out for it in these two games in South Beach. Only one win is needed to get home court advantage back, and it goes without saying that two losses would be absolutely catastrophic. The Bulls may or may not ultimately end up winning this game, but they are going to be able to keep this one close every step of the way. Don’t be surprised if this game never get separated by more than 10 points at any point, and in the end, Chicago will keep this one inside of the number.
Free NBA Playoffs Picks: Chicago Bulls +5
Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat Prediction: Chicago 88 – Miami 86