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Heat Hope To Go 16 In A Row, Make Magic Disappear

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Heat In Must-Win Situation In Game 2
CHICAGO (CBSMiami.com) – Forty-eight hours after getting beaten like the end of a ketchup bottle, the Miami Heat are in a must-win situation in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls. The Heat’s Big Three of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh ended up being the Big 1 and Wade and LeBron. Chris Bosh played well shooting 67 percent from the field, 100 percent from the free throw line and finishing with 30 points and 9 rebounds. But the bigger story for Heat fans was the abysmal play of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in Game 1. Wade and James shot a combined 12 for 29 for the field and scored 33 points. As anyone who watched the game can attest, that’s simply not going to cut it. It does reveal the Bulls’ game plan for dealing with the Big Three. The Bulls are more than happy to let Bosh score 30-40 a game as long as LeBron and Wade don’t get in a rhythm. But, the Bulls are not an unbeatable team by any stretch of the imagination. The Bulls got a combined 35 points from Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer. Plus, the Bulls dominated on the offensive boards by grabbing 19 to the Heat’s 6. Essentially, the Bulls played the best they possibly could in Game 1 and the Heat played as poorly as they possibly could. The Bulls’ defense was great in Game 1, but now comes the hard part for the Bulls. The Heat is humiliated, angry, and now sees the Bulls’ game plan. The team will have spent three days practicing and watching film to find new ways to attack.
But the Heat needs to have a better plan with their rotation of players. While it’s a given that Joel Anthony, James Jones, and Mario Chalmers will get solid minutes; the Heat need to decide if they want to throw another big man at the Bulls. The Heat can’t count on Udonis Haslem giving them any more than 5-10 minutes a game and he’s still not in good enough shape to really make a big difference. So, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra will have to decide if starting Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Jamaal Magloire will help out by bringing Joel Anthony off the bench as a sparkplug to the team. But the biggest hurdle for the Heat is quite simple. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have to play better. It’s not just about scoring either. Both players have to play better on the defensive end and in transition for the Heat to have any chance of winning. The Heat also absolutely have to crash the boards, even if it does slow down the team’s transition game and cut down on fast break points. If the Heat can cut down on the Bulls’ second-chance points, the game will be completely different in Game 2. In addition, the Heat has to rotate to the ball faster on the defensive end of the floor. It will probably mean less double-teams can be utilized, but the team has to keep a hand in Deng and Boozer’s face throughout the game or run the risk of both of them killing the Heat again. Still, LeBron and D-Wade are not going to play that poorly in back-to-back games. If both players show up ready to play in Game 2, then it should be a strikingly different game in Game 2. And, if the Heat can walk out of Chicago with a victory in Game 2 and bring the series back to Miami tied at one game apiece; then the Heat are in the driver’s seat. On the flip side, if the Bulls take a 2-0 lead in the series after Game 2, then the Heat is in deep trouble and will face very long odds of making it past the Eastern Conference Finals.

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The Miami Heat are looking to extend their winning streak to 16 in row as they go up against the Orlando Magic Wednesday night at the AmericanAirlines Arena.

“Hopefully we can continue to win,” said Dwyane Wade, who has averaged 28.3 points on 61.8 percent shooting and 6.8 assists in the last six games. “If we don’t, hopefully we can get right back on it. That’s what we’ve done all year. We’re in a groove. We’re playing well and finding ways to win.”

Wade had 32 points with 10 assists while LeBron James shook off a sore left knee for 20 and 10 rebounds to help Miami (44-14) post a club-record 15th straight win, 97-81 at Minnesota on Monday.

The Heat have averaged 107.0 points on 51.6 percent shooting while yielding 94.9 per game since their last loss, a 102-89 defeat at Indiana on Feb. 1.

“Any time you get an opportunity to set a record, it’s great for the organization and the guys involved,” James said. “But we want to keep going. We want to keep winning each game by itself. We don’t talk about the streak. We just go to the next game and play it out. We look forward to the next one.”

That collective focus has Miami playing like a team poised to successfully defend its NBA title. But the Heat are also still looking to get better, especially after committing a season-high 24 turnovers and going 5 of 21 from 3-point range Monday.

“I don’t want our guys focusing on the record,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I know it’s a great thing for our franchise, but we’re trying to improve and we can start with that process with a better game on Wednesday.”

Miami wasn’t at its best in its first meeting with Orlando (17-44), getting outrebounded 50-33 and needing overtime to win 112-110 on the road Dec. 31. James had 36 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, but Magic center Nikola Vucevic had 20 points and an NBA season-high 29 boards while Arron Afflalo added 28 points.

The Heat may have an easier time at home, where they’ve averaged 111.6 points during an 11-game winning streak.

It’s uncertain if Spoelstra will limit James, who played 35 minutes at Minnesota after tweaking his knee in the third quarter of Sunday’s 99-93 comeback win at New York.

“My knee responded well from that fall,” James said. “I’m blessed. It’s nothing really, a little jam when I landed on the floor.”

Wade should be well positioned to pick up the slack if necessary. He has averaged 32.3 points and shot 53.8 percent in his last 12 home games against the Magic.

Afflalo scored five of his 26 in the final 38 seconds Monday to help Orlando snap a three-game slide with a 105-102 win at New Orleans. Returning from a six-game absence due to a knee injury, Jameer Nelson had 15 points and seven assists as the Magic shot 49.4 percent and rallied from 17 down to win for just the fifth time in 36 games.

“This means a lot, being down by as many points as we were and going on to win,” Nelson said.

Magic forward Tobias Harris is averaging 16.8 points in six games since being acquired from Milwaukee last month. He averaged 4.9 in 28 games with the Bucks.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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