Heat, Bulls set to start East semifinals

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 5, 2013 at 8:49 pm •  Published: May 5, 2013
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MIAMI (AP) — If needed, there's plenty of things Miami and Chicago could use as extra motivation before meeting in a playoff series, like how the Heat rolled to a win when they met in the Eastern Conference finals two years ago or how the Bulls snapped the reigning champions' 27-game winning streak down the stretch of this regular season.

Then again, maybe the simple fact these clubs don't particularly like each other is all the fuel they'll need.

Top-seeded Miami plays host to fifth-seeded Chicago in Game 1 of an East semifinal series on Monday night, with the Heat coming off a week of rest after sweeping Milwaukee and the Bulls dealing with aftereffects of a grueling, seven-game first-round series.

Chicago took an injury-and-illness-riddled roster into Brooklyn and ousted the Nets on Saturday night.

"Them being the Bulls is enough," Heat forward Chris Bosh said Sunday. "Heat-Bulls, I think that's enough to really get your minds going and have some passion for the series. I mean, it's the second round. We have some major accomplishments we're trying to get to and they're a good, tough basketball team. I think given our history before, that's enough to lace 'em up and get going."

The teams split four regular-season meetings, each going 1-1 in home games.

For Miami, the biggest injury question is Dwyane Wade, who is officially listed as day-to-day with bone bruises around his right knee, but is expected to play on Monday. For Chicago, the medical report is far tougher to decipher. Luol Deng wrote on Twitter that he would "see you guys in Miami" after missing the end of the Brooklyn series because he needed a spinal tap to rule out meningitis, and Kirk Hinrich missed the last three games of Round 1 with a calf injury.

The status of Deng and Hinrich for Game 1 remained unclear Sunday.

"We know how good Miami is," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We're going to have to be at our best, or playing great basketball. They're a very deep team, extremely well-coached, very well-balanced. So we're going to have to be at our best, right from the start."

The Bulls arrived in Miami early Sunday and took the day off, which was surely a well-needed break.

Meanwhile, a couple hours before LeBron James formally picked up his fourth NBA MVP award, the Heat were in their practice gymnasium at their home arena, mouth guards in place, knee pads in position, going through a physical workout. For the first time since ousting Milwaukee, they took the floor knowing which team would be their next foe.

"We're preparing to make sure that we play our game, in our building," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We haven't played in a week and we understand that. We've been working hard this week. Our guys are looking forward to getting out there and competing. So let's tip this thing up."

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