Miami wins series 4-1
|Game 1: Monday, May 6th|
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|Game 2: Wednesday, May 8th|
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|Game 3: Friday, May 10th|
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|Game 4: Monday, May 13th|
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|Game 5: Wednesday, May 15th|
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7:00 PM ET, May 6, 2013
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
MIAMI -- Nate Robinson was spitting blood in the first half, then delivered the deepest cuts of the night in the final moments. And the Chicago Bulls reminded the Miami Heat that no one in the NBA plays them any tougher.
Yes, the streakbusters struck again.
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Robinson scored 27 points, Jimmy Butler added 21 points and a career-high-tying 14 rebounds, and the Bulls beat Miami 93-86 on Monday night in Game 1 of the teams' Eastern Conference semifinal series. The team that snapped Miami's 27-game winning streak in the regular season -- the second-longest in NBA history -- found a way to topple the champs again, this time ending a run of 12 straight Heat victories overall.
"I've played on some tough teams," Robinson said. "But this one, there's something a little different, something special about this group."
A seven-point deficit midway through the fourth wasn't enough to doom the Bulls, who finished the game on a 10-0 run in the final 1:59. And to think, the Bulls weren't anywhere near full strength. Kirk Hinrich was out again with a calf injury. Luol Deng isn't even expected to rejoin the team until Tuesday, after dealing with an illness apparently so severe that a spinal tap -- and other tests since -- were needed to rule out things like meningitis.
"So proud of my team man, this bed might be good luck after all," Deng wrote on Twitter after the game, with a photo of him in a hospital bed.
Oh, and Derrick Rose remains sidelined, as he's been since April 2012.
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The Bulls stunned the Heat in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Will Miami bounce back?
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No problem. The Heat are 41-3 in their last 44 games -- with two of those losses to the Bulls, who are now 3-2 against Miami this season.
"I think when you're facing adversity, you have to be mentally tough," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "But this is just one game. We have to play a lot better in our next one."
LeBron James got his MVP trophy from Commissioner David Stern before the game, then struggled to a two-point first half before finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for Miami. Dwyane Wade added 14 for the Heat, who had no one else in double figures, finished shooting 40 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 46-32.
"I'm not stunned," James said. "This is what the playoffs is all about. We're going against a really good team."
Miami was outscored 35-24 in the fourth, something that drew the ire of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra afterward.
"There's no excuses," said Spoelstra, whose team had not played in more than a week. "We're not making any excuses for time off or anything else."
If anyone could have made excuses, it was Robinson. He needed 10 stitches, five in his lip and five more inside his mouth, to close a nasty cut that came when he dove for a loose ball with James and struck his head on the court late in the first half.
And then not only did he play the whole second half, he scored 24 points in those 24 minutes, including the last seven points that finished the job for Chicago.
Twice the Heat have been down 1-0 in a playoff series during the Big Three era. Both times they went on to sweep the next four games.
|2013 Conf Semis||Bulls||??|
|2012 NBA Finals||Thunder||Won, 4-1|
|2011 Conf Finals||Bulls||Won, 4-1|
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
"He was born a scorer," Miami guard Mario Chalmers said.
"We're not really a flashy team," Gibson said. "We like to go out and do our job."
A pair of three-point plays by James -- one of them coming when he just broke through a tackle attempt by Butler and muscled the ball to the rim anyway -- gave Miami a 76-69 lead midway through the fourth quarter, the biggest deficit Chicago faced all night.
The Bulls were undeterred.
Coming off a Game 7 road win in Brooklyn two nights earlier just to get into a series with Miami, the Bulls just kept grinding. When Ray Allen made a 3-pointer to give Miami an 80-78 lead, Butler came back with one of his own to put the Bulls back on top. When the Heat went up by three after James made a free throw with 2:22 left, Belinelli connected for 3 -- on a second-effort possession -- to knot the game.
Then when Robinson connected on a 20-footer with 1:18 left, the Bulls had the lead and plenty of swagger.
Wade missed a 3-pointer on the next possession, Robinson drove the lane and scored with 45.5 seconds left, and suddenly the Bulls were up 90-86. James drove against Butler and tried a 12-footer that missed everything, the Bulls got the rebound, Robinson made a free throw to stretch the lead to five and the stunner was complete.
Game 1 to the Bulls.
"It's all about being tough," said Butler, who played all 48 minutes for the third straight game. "We're always going to be the underdogs and we take pride in that. Everybody can overlook us, but we feel like we're good enough to hang with a lot of these teams."
It was a night that started with a celebration, James getting his MVP award from the commissioner.
"Thank you so much," James said. "And let's get ready to go."
And with that, the game started.
Problem was, no one was ready to go.
The Heat missed their first seven shots -- maybe rust really was a factor. It was 37-all at the half and James wore twice as many pairs of sneakers in the opening two quarters (two) as he had field goals (one). He had two points at the break, the lowest of his 120-game postseason career, on just 1 for 6 shooting.
He opened the second half with a 3-pointer, so the shoes were a quick fix.
But the Bulls were in for the long haul, and after James made the consecutive three-point plays to open a seven-point lead, Chicago answered with seven straight points, knotting the game at 76-all when Belinelli made a 3-pointer with just under 5 minutes left.
Momentum belonged to Chicago, and soon, so did the game.
"It's just one game," Belinelli said.
Game notesJames has played 885 regular-season and playoff games. He's scored less than two points in a first half only twice, being shut out by Dallas on Oct. 31, 2007 and Dec. 20, 2010. He scored exactly two points on five other occasions before Monday. ... Wade dove into the second row of seats to save an errant ball, and grimaced after appearing to hit his sore right knee. "I wish somebody would have grabbed me. That would have been kind of nice, especially at home," Wade said. ... The Bulls had 17 second-chance points on only nine offensive rebounds.
MIAMI, FL - MAY 06: Miami Heat fans pose for a photograph prior to Game One between the Miami Heat and the Chicago...(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: Nate Robinson came back from a blow to the head, which required six stitches, to score 24 of his 27 points in the second half. He scored seven points in Chicago's game-deciding 10-0 run in the last two minutes, and assisted Marco Belinelli for the other three. He wound up with nine assists.
X factor: The subpar performance of Miami's non-LeBron and Wade players left a lot to be desired. They shot just 16-for-45 from the field combined, and Ray Allen was repeatedly roasted on defense down the stretch. Chris Bosh's 3-for-10, six-rebound evening was a massive letdown.
That was superhuman: Jimmy Butler has now played every minute of the past 12 quarters for the Bulls. He once again put in an excellent defensive effort as he checked both LeBron and Wade for extended stretches, and he kicked in 21 points and 14 rebounds to boot.
Including the postseason, the Bulls are now 3-2 against the Heat this season. The Knicks (3-1) and Pacers (2-1) are the only other teams with a winning record against the Heat this season.
Derrick Rose was cleared to play by doctors on March 8. That was 61 days ago.
The Heat trailed by two points with a little more than a minute remaining Monday when Dwyane Wade missed a 3-point field goal that would have given Miami the lead. Over the last three postseasons (Big 3 Era), Wade is now 1-of-10 on potential game-tying or go-ahead shots in the final two minutes of games. LeBron James is shooting over 40 percent on such shots since joining the Heat.[+]
Nate Robinson is the only player in the last 15 seasons with at least 11 points and 6 assists in the 4th quarter of an NBA playoff game.
The Bulls trailed 86-83 in the final minutes Monday but scored the final 10 points to steal Game 1 on the road. Nate Robinson scored seven of the Bulls final 10 points, while LeBron James was 0-of-2 in the final two minutes.[+]
Final 2:00 - 4th Quarter Monday
Jimmy Butler hasn't been on the bench for a second in any of the Bulls' last 3 games. Butler is the 4th player since the merger to play every single minute of 3 straight playoff games. He's the first player to do so since Allen Iverson in 2005. Nobody since the merger has played every minute of 4 straight playoff games.[+]
The only times the Heat have been down 1-0 in a playoff series in the James/Wade/Bosh era... They went on to sweep the next 4 games. Heat Down 1-0 in Playoff Series Bosh/James/Wade Era (Since 2010-11) Opponent Series Result 2013 Conf Semis Bulls ?? 2012 NBA Finals Thunder Won, 4-1 2011 Conf Finals Bulls Won, 4-1
LeBron James hit a 3 with 11:01 left in the 3rd quarter. In other words, he scored more points in the first 59 seconds of the second half than he did in the entire 1st half.
ESPN Stats & Information
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