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Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Heat can't go cold from outside in Game 2

By ESPN Stats & Info

The three regular-season games between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat were decided by a combined 8 points -- and LeBron James did not play in one game. But, the fact still remains:

The Bulls are 4-0 this season against the Heat.

The Heat are down 1-0 in the Eastern Conference finals following their 21-point loss in Game 1. And, although it’s a small sample of just two games, the Heat were 0-2 during the regular season in games immediately after a 20-point loss.

• On Jan. 13, the Heat lost by 28 points at Denver then lost their next game, which was at Chicago, 99-96. (LeBron James missed both games with a sprained ankle.)

• On March 4, the Heat lost by 30 at San Antonio, and followed that up with a 1-point loss at the Bulls.

A bigger sample is this, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau: Each of the previous 23 teams that lost Game 1 of a best-of-seven playoff series by more than 20 points ended up losing that series.

One more note working against the Heat is that LeBron James has lost four of the previous five postseason series in which his team (the Cleveland Cavaliers) lost Game 1. Dwyane Wade and the Heat have lost five of the seven playoff series when losing Game 1, although one of those series wins came when they were down 2-0 in the 2006 NBA Finals and came back to beat the Dallas Mavericks in six games.

Game 2: What To Watch
The Bulls’ ability to rebound at the offensive end (19 offensive boards in Game 1) not only resulted in 31 second-chance points, but put the brakes on Miami’s transition game. In the first two rounds, 52 percent of the Heat’s transition opportunities came from defensive rebounds, and they scored 54 of their 114 transition points on those plays. In Game 1 against Chicago, Miami was able to generate transition opportunities on only two of their seven defensive boards, scoring just two points.

Miami will have to shoot better from the perimeter tonight. The Heat made just seven field goals outside 15 feet in Game 1, matching the fewest they made from that distance in a game, regular season and playoff games combined. Conversely, the Bulls shot 44.2 percent from the perimeter in Game 1 (19-43).

James was not able to attack the basket in Game 1, thanks in part to Luol Deng’s defense. James averaged 14 points per game in two regular-season games when he was guarded by Deng, but was held to just six points against Deng in Game 1.

Although Deng was able to stop James for one game, no one this postseason has been able to shut down Derrick Rose. He’s averaging nine points per game inside of five feet -- only Dwight Howard has averaged more this postseason (12.7).