While other matchups have had their fair share of drama, by far the most intense series of the NBA playoffs has been that of the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.
|Photo by: Getty Images|
Miami jumped all over the Bulls in Game 2, at one point leading by nearly 50. While Chicago managed to hold LeBron to only 19 points (all of which came in the first half), five other Heat players reached double-digits. As a team, Miami shot 60% from the floor and scored 28 points off of turnovers.
An already heated game turned even hotter in the fourth quarter when both Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson were ejected for arguing with officials. The Bulls managed to score some junk points late, but still got throttled, 115-78.
As the series shifted to Chicago for Game 3, both teams were fired up and emotions were flaring. The first half alone saw three technical fouls and an ejection. The first came when Joakim Noah pushed Chris Anderson. The remainder occurred during a scuffle between Nazr Mohammed and LeBron James. Mohammed shoved LBJ to the floor and got tossed, which proved to be costly, considering the Bulls were depleted to begin with.
Chicago managed to keep it close, but Heat guard Norris Cole had one of the best games of his career, scoring 18 points in a 104-94 Miami win.
That brings us to Game 4, with the Heat holding a 2-1 series advantage. Obviously there is a lot of basketball left to be played, but with the loss of so many and tempers running wild, can the Bulls still pull the upset?
It's going to be tough when they're short three of their best players.
Superstar Derrick Rose has infamously and controversially been out all season long after tearing his ACL in last year's playoffs. Even though team doctors cleared Rose to play months ago, he still isn't ready to return. Whether he doesn't feel physically capable of playing yet, or there is some kind of underlying mental fear involved, only he knows the answers why. While there have been hints of Rose's return during this series, as of now, he is still sitting on the sidelines in a suit.
Chicago is also down forward Luol Deng, who was admitted into the hospital for a spinal tap and has been taken to the emergency room twice since the procedure. He has lost 15 pounds in the last week alone, but is still hoping to play. Guard Kirk Hinrich is out as well with a severely bruised calf.
All three are officially listed as "doubtful" for Game 4.
The one thing the Bulls have in their favor is the fact that they are a very physical squad, something that has given Miami problems over the last few seasons. Even extremely shorthanded, Chicago has more than enough passion and drive to hang with the heavily-favored defending champions.
Actually beating the Heat in a 7-game series, however, may prove to be too complicated a task.