The Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls, 94-91, Wednesday night, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third consecutive season with their 4-1 series victory.
Dwyane Wade stepped up with six points in the final five minutes, tallying 18 overall, thus leading the Heat to a comeback victory at AmericanAirlines Arena. LeBron James complemented D-Wade with 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, despite a poor 5-of-13 shooting.
Chris Bosh came up with 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
For the Bulls, Carlos Boozer was huge, tallying 26 points and 13 rebounds on 10-of-19 shooting. Nate Robinson dropped 21 points, Jimmy Butler scored 19 and Richard Hamilton picked up a surprising 15 points.
Unfortunately, Chicago's effort fell just short as the Bulls failed to get a key three-point field goal off.
During the first quarter, the Heat came out firing, outscoring the Bulls by a count of 30-21. LeBron led the early charge, getting to the line and finishing in the paint to pace the Heat through the early goings.
In the second quarter, however, Chicago bounced back.
Richard Hamilton came to life in the second, draining jump shots and spacing the floor for his slashing teammates. With Butler and Robinson draining three after three, the Bulls managed to give Boozer room to work.
They proceeded to dominate the Heat, outscoring them 32-17 to head into the half with a 53-47 lead.
Butler picked up where he left off in the third quarter, draining long jumpers and creating the counterattack Chicago needed for Miami's attack. With Joakim Noah working inside and Hamilton continuing to drain shots, the Bulls managed to head into the final frame up 77-69.
During the fourth quarter, however, Shane Battier scored eight points in the first four minutes to retake momentum for the Heat. With Norris Cole throwing down a beautiful one-handed dunk and draining jumpers, this opened the door for D-Wade to reemerge as Miami's clutch leader, and the Heat managed to secure the 94-91, three-point win.
This is all too familiar territory for the Chicago Bulls, as they can't seem to scratch their itch known as LeBron James. While some teams have another one's number, it's LeBron that has Chicago in the palm of his hand.
Just check the numbers.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
The Bulls have been eliminated from the postseason by LeBron James in 3 of the last 4 seasons.5/16/2013, 1:44:24 AM
2013-14 can't come soon enough.
The true story of this game wasn't just the rivalry, though, but instead the return to form of the injured Dwyane Wade. Despite having to readjust his kneecap—you read that correctly—Wade came back out and took over the fourth quarter.
More of the usual, and just the way D-Wade has built his Hall of Fame legacy.
chuck swirsky @ctsbulls
Wade has come up big in the 4th for the Heat..no question best player for Heat at crunch time5/16/2013, 1:34:10 AM
While the Heat may be advancing, no one in the NBA community would be insensitive enough to ignore the Bulls' marvelous effort this postseason. They made it past the Brooklyn Nets and gave Miami a fight without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich.
Words can't describe the quality of their fight.
Chris Martin Palmer @ChrisPalmerNBA
Great effort by this Bulls team. Toughest 4-1 series ever.5/16/2013, 1:43:36 AM
Miami would agree.
Speaking of D-Rose, the Twittersphere can't seem to get enough of the jokes surrounding his return. Fortunately, we now have a date for when he'll be back.
Next season...you know, barring unforeseen circumstances.
Tom Fornelli @TomFornelli
And Derrick Rose is officially day-to-day this offseason.5/16/2013, 1:42:07 AM
The jokes won't end until the tenure on the sidelines does.
As for the victors, the Heat have done something that few teams in the league have been able to achieve.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
The Heat have advanced to their 3rd straight Eastern Conference Finals, first team to do so since 2003-08 Pistons.5/16/2013, 1:42:23 AM
Something tells me they have a legitimate shot at setting a new standard.