Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls (7, 187.5)
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1.
Chicago opened the series with a stunning upset and Miami evened it up with a savage beating. Pivotal Game 3 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series takes place Friday on the Bulls’ home floor two nights after the Heat inflicted a 115-78 beating on Chicago. Miami was crisp throughout the contest after being visibly rusty in the opening loss. The Bulls will again be without starters Luol Deng (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (calf).
Miami’s last visit to Chicago resulted in a 101-97 loss that snapped its 27-game winning streak. Friday’s contest figures to again be testy after the Game 2 outing that featured nine technical fouls (six on the Bulls) and a flagrant 1 foul on Heat forward Chris Andersen. Miami forward LeBron James says there is no carryover from the convincing win. “It’s just one game,” James said. “You don’t get two wins if you win by over 30 or over 40. You only get one game. They’re back in their home building, where they’re very good and we have to be ready for it.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT THE HEAT: Backup guards Ray Allen (21 points) and Norris Cole (18) were a combined 12-of-16 shooting in Game 2 as Chicago’s defensive intensity dropped significantly. Cole hit all four of his 3-point attempts and Miami was 9-of-18 from 3-point range while shooting 60 percent overall. The Heat also blistered Chicago in the interior with a 56-18 scoring edge in the paint and forced the Bulls into 19 turnovers. Guard Dwyane Wade is playing with a bruised right knee and the Game 2 blowout allowed him to get additional rest after playing 28 minutes. James is averaging 21.5 points through the first two games.
ABOUT THE BULLS: Deng met with Chicago-area reporters on Thursday’s off-day to detail his scary health ordeal. The All-Star forward said he came down with the flu and got severely ill after undergoing a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. He said that walking was a program and that he experienced piercing headaches and lost 15 pounds due to the illness that forced him to be hospitalized. “I couldn’t control my body really, and because of that I lost a lot of weight,” Deng said. At this point, there is no firm word on whether Deng will regain his strength soon enough to play in the series. Hinrich underwent another MRI exam and it also isn’t clear when he can return.
* Over is 5-1 in Bulls’ last six home games.
* Bulls are 2-6 ATS in their last eight home games.
* Heat are 20-6 ATS in their last 26 road games.
* Under is 4-1-1 in Heat’s last six road games.
1. Game 2 marked the 41st time in NBA playoff history that a game was decided by 35 or more points.
2. Heat C Chris Bosh averaged just 11 points over the first two games.
3. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said PG Derrick Rose (knee) won’t play in Game 3 despite another round of speculation that Rose intended to return.
San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors (-2.5, 203)
Series tied 1-1.
For all but a few minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime in Game 1, the Golden State Warriors have dominated the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals. The Warriors will be looking to take a 2-1 lead when the series shifts to Oakland, Calif., for Game 3 on Friday. Golden State enjoys one of the best homecourt advantages in the NBA and has not hosted a second-round playoff game since 2007.
The Warriors blew a 16-point lead with four minutes left in the fourth quarter before falling in double overtime in Game 1. Instead of folding in Game 2, Golden State came out on fire behind Klay Thompson and built up a 19-point halftime lead en route to a 100-91 victory. “I truly believe the trials and tribulations are transportation for where you’re going,“ Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “Game 1 made us better. We didn’t panic. We made plays.” That marked the first setback of the postseason for the second-seeded Spurs. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker have had strong moments in the first two games for San Antonio but the Spurs have not been able to put together a consistent offense.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT THE SPURS: Parker came alive in Game 1 when Thompson fouled out late and led the comeback and eventual overtime win. When the Warriors’ long-armed guard has been able to avoid foul trouble, Parker has had a hard time getting into the paint to score and create. On the other end, the Spurs have been able to stop one of Golden State’s guards at a time but not both. “I thought it was polite of (Thompson and Curry) to at least take turns and not both be on fire on the same night,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said after Game 2. “Maybe the next iteration will be neither one of them will be hot in Game 3. That’s what I’m hoping.” Duncan battled through an illness in Game 1 and collected 23 points and nine rebounds in Game 2 but has often had to serve as the lone big man in the middle while the Spurs try to counter Golden State’s various small lineups.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Golden State never lacks confidence in its outside shooting and has put that on display with Curry in Game 1 and Thompson in Game 2. Thompson set a franchise playoff record by going 8-for-9 from 3-point range in the win and scored 29 of his 34 points in the first half while also grabbing 14 rebounds for his first career double-double. Curry left most of the 3-point shooting up to his counterpart in Game 2 but came through at the end with several slashing drives into the paint that helped the Warriors fight off another fourth-quarter rally from the Spurs. Golden State has shown a willingness to experiment with its lineup since David Lee went down with a torn hip flexor in Game 1 of the first round, and inserted rookie Draymond Green into the starting lineup in Game 2. Green has proven to be a tenacious defender and has adding 3-point shooting to his repertoire in the playoffs. Going home is certain to bring more confidence to the young Warriors. “Honestly we have the best home court in the NBA,” Thompson said. “They’re the greatest crowd I ever played in front of.”
* Over is 15-5-1 in the last 21 meetings in Golden State.
* Favorite is 18-6-2 ATS in the last 26 meetings.
* Spurs are 5-2-2 ATS in the last nine meetings in Golden State.
* Spurs are 1-5-1 ATS in the last seven meetings.
1. The Warriors have outrebounded the Spurs in each of the first two games.
2. San Antonio C Tiago Splitter (ankle) played for the first time since Game 2 of the first round on Wednesday and scored five points in 10 minutes off the bench.
3. Lee (hip) has been in uniform for each of the first two games but has yet to play in the series.