After two lively games in Miami in which the Bulls were able to earn a split and gain homecourt advantage, the Heat looked like they had a real test in front of them with the series shifting to Chicago.
With their spirit broken after putting up a hard fought but ultimately fruitless Game 3 loss to the defending champs, the Bulls put away any lingering doubt that they would actually put up a real fight (in basketball terms) in this series with a franchise-record blowout loss in Game 4.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibadeau has put the blame on his team's shortcomings to just about every facet of the game, including refs who should look the other way when LeBron James gets hacked on his way to the rim - usually by more than one Bulls defender. He also thinks his players have been unfairly assessed technical fouls when they're screaming obscenities at the referees or shoving LeBron and Birdman when the ball is not even in play.
All their energy earlier in the series that was expended via fist pumping, hollering, overzealous clapping, and complaining to the referees could have been better served actually playing basketball considering how shorthanded they are. Yes, the Bulls are missing key players (by the way, Derrick Rose is out for tonight's game) but Thibs has also held on to a tight playoff rotation that has excluded serviceable veterans that are healthy and ready to play such as Richard Hamilton and Daequan Cook.
The plain and simple fact is that the Bulls are overmatched in every way. Everything else, including the bickering, is just a distraction. And the obvious bears repeating, this Bulls team would still not be able to beat the 2012-13 Heat four times in seven games with all of their healthy players anyway. Yes, even with their former MVP.
Meanwhile, the Heat could face another full week of rest and rust-accumulation if they can closeout the series Wednesday night in Miami. If both East series conclude in 5 games then the Eastern Conference Finals will begin in Miami on Monday, May 20 but should either series conclude in 6 or 7 games then it will begin on Wednesday, May 22.
Wade could use the time off for sure but what to make of LeBron's lowered shooting percentage in this series or that Shane Battier and Ray Allen have not reliable either with their jumpers? Chris Bosh has been playing very well as of late but coach Erik Spoelstra will need more firepower in the next round. Unlike the Bulls (who also declined to retain Omer Asik last offseason) who have no depth off the bench, the Heat has been able to enjoy strong efforts from Mike Miller and Rashard Lewis in the past and Spoelstra might be tempted to give them some minutes tonight especially if Wade sits out or plays limited minutes.
Looking for Miami Heat tickets? Hot Hot Hoops has you covered.