Mt. Vernon Register-News

Sports

May 16, 2013

Heat rally past Bulls to advance

(Continued)

Shane Battier opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to get Miami within five. Another 3-pointer from Battier — over Boozer, his fellow Duke alum — came not long afterward, and he connected on a pair of free throws after being fouled on a 3-point try to cut Chicago's lead to 81-79.

Norris Cole had a pair of baskets, the second being a left-handed driving dunk, to put Miami on top, and the Heat found a way to close it out from there.

Miami will open the East finals at home next week, and it'll be a playoff rematch from its march to the title last season. If Indiana beats New York — the Pacers lead that series 3-1 — on Thursday, then the Heat and Pacers will meet for Game 1 in Miami on Monday night. If the Knicks extend the Pacers to at least six games, then the East finals would open Wednesday night, regardless of opponent.

The Heat will almost surely be big favorites against either Indiana or New York, though it's certain either opponent would enter a series against Miami with plenty of confidence. The Knicks went 3-1 against the Heat this season, outscoring them by 11.5 points per game and winning both of their games at Miami convincingly. The Pacers went 2-1 against the Heat, winning twice in Indianapolis and losing their lone game in Miami.

To put that in some more perspective, the Heat went 2-5 against the Knicks and Pacers, and are now 72-12 against all other NBA clubs this season.

Then again, given how Miami has played over the last 3½ months, the notion of the Heat losing to anybody four times might seem downright impossible. The Heat lost at Indiana on Feb. 1. They won at Toronto two days later, the first victory in what became a run of 27 straight wins — and the start of a stretch that has seen Miami now go 45-3 in its last 48 games.

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Tom Lindley Sports