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Game 3 preview

There isn't much to say about this series until Miami wins a game. There were some adjustments that the Heat could've made in game two but (wisely or not) chose not to. The starting lineup was the same, they were aggressively trapping Ben Gordon like before, they were working Shaq early before he tired out. And the Bulls beat their ass.

Not that I don't see the Heat taking tonight's game, I just don't see them getting particularly better. They're not going to get quicker on defense, and their role players will only succeed if the starts play to their fullest potential. The key has always been Wade, and if he continues to struggle the Heat are in trouble. There were stretches in game 2 (not coincidentally when Duhon was guarding him) when Wade was getting to the rim and getting layups, or fouls, or hitting an open 3-point shooter like Posey. It took a fantastic offensive performance by the Bulls to keep that lead up. So hopefully after TWO games of seeing Duhon fail there's no third shot. Beyond that, Kirk and Thabo (and re-animate Griffin in case of emergency) have done a decent enough job to keep Wade off of his peak, and the bum shoulder can do the rest. Although I'll refuse to believe he's hurting that bad until this series is over, the guy has, um, overstated his injuries enough in his career where I think skepticism is warranted. I can't help shake the thought that the magic of being at home will re-invigorate him and what was merely stretches of game 2 will be for an entire game.

(And by 'magic' of being at home, I don't mean special edict from David Stern and his referee doppelgangers. I hate hate hate stuff like this. Hate it. Instead of going into how much would have to go into a conspiracy I'll just ask this: If you truly believed the NBA is fixed in any way, why would you still be a fan? So if you don't believe it, stop saying it, it's annoying. If Dwyane gets lots of calls tonight it's because he gets a lot of calls. Sure, some of it is 'star' respect from the officials (who are bad, not crooked), but he's also really good at driving and drawing contact. It's not Stern weighing numbers of who will get more ratings: a team from Chicago or a team with two superstars.)

Basically, I'm not worried about what the Heat do, I just want the Bulls to keep playing their game. If they do they'll likely win. But we've seen too many games this season (often on the road, although their post-break road record is respectable) when offense doesn't run as smoothly. The easy answer is that things get tougher when the shots don't fall, but in game 1 the shots didn't fall, and the team (mostly Ben Gordon) made up for it by getting to the line. If they have really shown that maturity (hey, maybe the Bulls do have that 'playoff gear'!) then the offense is diverse enough to succeed. If they're timid (and I don't think they'll be intimidated no matter how dirty the Heat play tonight) and take contested jumpers instead of moving and driving, the twelve-point quarters could return.

There's that stat that 95% (or whatever) of the teams that go up 2-0 at home win the series. The reason for that isn't because being down 0-2 is insurmountable, it's because if a team has home-court advantage (thus had the better season) AND won 2 straight games against a team, that team is likely better. The better team wins the series. It has nothing to do with what the Bulls have done before in blowing a 2-0 lead, or what the Heat have done before coming back from an 0-2 deficit, I think the Bulls (right now) are just better than the Heat (right now). Doesn't mean they'll win tonight, but if they play like they have at home they will, and most of the Heat will gladly ease into summer vacation.