Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

May 4, 2013

Thunder, Grizzlies set to square off again

(Continued)

A capsule look at the NBA's second-round playoff series:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 MIAMI HEAT (66-16, 4-0) vs. No. 5 CHICAGO BULLS (45-37, 4-3)

Season series:
Tied, 2-2. Both teams went 1-1 on their home floor. Chicago won in Miami 96-89 on Jan. 4, but the game everyone will talk about going into this series is how the Bulls prevailed 101-97 in Chicago on March 27 — the night that the Heat saw their 27-game winning streak come to an end. Miami won at Chicago 86-67 on Feb. 21, and took care of the Bulls in Miami by a final of 105-93 on April 14.

Story line: It's simple. Chicago snapped Miami's quest for history once this season by ending the 27-game streak, and will try to keep the Heat from having a chance to win a second straight NBA title. There will be plenty of talk about Bulls point guard Derrick Rose and why he remains sidelined more than a year after tearing his ACL, but if the first-round ouster of Brooklyn shows anything, it's that Chicago is plenty tough enough without the 2011 NBA MVP. And yes, the Bulls will have Miami's full attention, Rose or no Rose.

Key Matchup I: LeBron James vs. TBA. Luol Deng's status is a question mark for Chicago, and it's hard to envision someone like Jimmy Butler having much success trying to guard James. So it'll be a committee-type effort, with Taj Gibson getting plenty of time against James as well.

Key Matchup II: Mario Chalmers vs. Nate Robinson. As was clearly on display in the first round against Brooklyn, Chicago's best hope is getting Robinson into video-game mode and giving him a chance to make shots from everywhere. Robinson becomes a different player when he's feeling confident. Then again, so does Chalmers.

X-Factor: Dwyane Wade. If his knee is right, Miami clearly is better and should return to the Eastern Conference finals once again. If his knee isn't, Chicago has the type of team that could give Miami some big problems.

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