It was a long week but we finally got to Sunday night and Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Both teams came out a little jittery as the Heat started 3-of-10 from the field while the Bulls came out 3-of-11. Chicago still jumped out to an early lead but a 9-1 run got the Heat out in front, where they stayed for the remainder of the quarter. Defense was the focus for the Heat and Joel Anthony led the way, blocking 4 shots in the 1st quarter as Miami took a 18-15 lead after 1.
The 2nd quarter was pretty much back and fourth the entire way, with the Heat keeping a slim lead throughout. Chris Bosh appeared to catch fire, scoring 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the 2nd. Derrick Rose was having a very quiet 1st half until the final minute where he scored 5 of his 11 points, but he was held without a single assist. Carlos Boozer also picked things up in the 2nd making 4-of-5 after missing all 5 of his 1st quarter shots.
Miami came out of the break with a 3-point lead but the Bulls were charging early in the 2nd half, going on a 9-3 run that gave them their first lead since early in the game. The Heat responded with a 10-2 run to take their largest lead of the game at 7. They appeared to be in control late in the 3rd quarter but in the blink of an eye Chicago game right back, scoring 5 points in the final 35 seconds to get back within 3.
The Bulls kept it close early in the 4th quarter, briefly getting within 2 points and then for a while staying within 4. That was until the halfway point of the quarter when Miami went on a 9-0 run that put the game out of reach. Chris Bosh was on fire all night, finishing the game by making 13 of his last 15 shots. He finished the game with 34 points on 13-of-18 shooting and 8-of-10 from the foul line.
This was more of a team win then Game 2, when the Heat got the huge boost from Udonis Haslem off the bench. Last night we saw everybody chipping in and Miami keeping the tempo up from start to finish, never allowing the Bulls any extended runs or an opportunity to feel as though they were taking control of the game. After not losing consecutive games since early February, Chicago is going to have to dig very deep and get a big road win in Game 4 to get back in the series.
- Joel Anthony had a big game, blocking 4 shots in the 1st quarter and 5 in the 1st half.
- Drilling a couple of big triples in the 3rd quarter was Mike Bibby. He's had a rough series but hit 2-of-4 from downtown, and the timing of his shots were key in keeping Chicago from gaining momentum.
- As a team the Heat hit 25-of-29 from the free throw line. They made their last 12 from the charity stripe, hitting them when they counted most.
- Miami is now 7-0 at home during this years playoffs.
- LeBron James went a while without a field goal but still finished with 22 points, 6 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He was also a perfect 9-for-9 from the charity stripe.
- Both of James' blocks were on Carlos Boozer, and they were nice.
- It was a very quiet night for Dwyane Wade, finishing with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists.
- Udonis Haslem played 24 minutes and did his usual dirty work, coming away with 8 points on 4-of-7 shooting. He grabbed 4 boards and drew a charge.
- Carlos Boozer had a productive game, finishing with 26 points and 17 rebounds, 7 on the offensive end.
- Derrick Rose started 2-of-8 but would finish with 20 points on 8-of-19 shooting with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
If Rose and Boozer can have nights like that and the Heat still win by 11, holding Chicago to 85 points, I think Miami is in pretty good shape. The Heat is able to match the defensive intensity of the Bulls but is a much more offensive team with the Big 3. Thankfully we only have to wait a couple of days for the next game with Game 4 coming up on Tuesday night.