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Eastern Conference Finals Game 1: Miami Heat (0-0) vs. Chicago Bulls (0-0)

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After 5 long years of waiting, the Miami Heat is finally back in the Eastern Conference Finals.  When this team came together we knew that they would be getting deep into the playoffs on a regular basis, but some are still acting surprised that it happened so quickly.  Even though the Heat showed some real dominance during the regular season, tying for the most road wins and capturing the 2nd seed in the East, the slow start and inconsistency at times have kept the critics and skeptics alive and kicking.

None of that matters now though as the Heat have stomped their way through the first two rounds of the playoffs, taking out Philadelphia and Boston in a pair of 5-game series'.  One of the key elements that helped Miami get by both teams the way they did is that the Heat won the first two games of each series at home.  This time they wont have that luxury because the Bulls have home-court advantage, meaning that getting out of Chicago with a split is the realistic goal.

The Heat and Bulls have put up pretty even numbers during the postseason up until this point; Miami is averaging 94.7 points per game on 43.8% shooting while Chicago is averaging 94.9 on 43.7%.  The Heat give up 88.8 points per game and the Bulls give up 87.7.  Rebounding numbers are almost identical as well, with Miami grabbing 43.8 per game while the Bulls pick up 43.9.

A lot of people are clinging to the fact that since the Bulls had success against Miami during the regular season that translates into Chicago winning the series.  Never mind the fact that the 3 wins by the Bulls were by a combined total of 8 points, or that the Heat also lost 3 times during the regular season to Boston, and we saw how much that benefited the Celtics when the playoffs rolled around.  I think its going to be a very entertaining series but I just don't get how people can realistically crown either team at this point. 

The only matchup that really favors the Bulls is at the point.  They have the MVP and we have the Bibby-Chalmers combination.  I was actually impressed with the defense that Heat point guards threw at Rajon Rondo during the last series, especially from Mike Bibby.  I don't expect much from him on the defensive end, but if he can provide the same kind of hustle against D-Rose then that's all we can ask for.   

One thing that's pretty messed up in my opinion is the waiting time in-between games.  In both the Boston series and now this one, there is a 3-day gap between Games 2 and 3.  That means that we have to wait just as long between games as we did between series', as there were 3 days that separated the 1st round and the 2nd, then the 2nd and the 3rd.  Also, the fact that it's taking 8 days to play the first 3 games of this series is a little annoying.  Ok, I'm done...this concludes the extent of my schedule rant.  For now. 

GAME NOTES

  • This will be the 6th postseason meeting between the Heat and the Bulls.  Chicago has won 4 of the 5 series (in 92, 96, 97 and 07) with the only win for Miami coming in the championship season of 06. 
  • Miami is 8-0 this postseason when they score 90 or more points.
  • Dwyane Wade has scored in double figures in 73 straight games, a Heat postseason record. 
  • This is the 3rd time in the last 7 seasons that the Heat has made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. 
  • Chris Bosh leads the Heat with 6 double doubles in this years playoffs.  LeBron is next with 4, then D-Wade with 3. 
  • Miami is 7-0 in games that they out-rebound their opponent and 0-2 when they are out-rebounded.
  • Joel Anthony has taken 3 charges during the postseason, most on the Heat.  Mike Miller is next, taking 2.
  • As of now, neither team is reporting any injuries. 

Tipoff from the United Center is set for 8pm and the game will be broadcast on TNT.  This game can't start fast enough...Lets Go Heat!!