Two Thursday afternoon Heat stories:
Heat players and coaches departed Thursday on their most important business trip since last June.
And it took no space in the overhead bins for one of the most important things they say they must take with them to Chicago: the assertive, physical, impose-our-will mentality that set the tone in the Game 2 thumping of the Bulls that evened this series at one win apiece.
“I would like to think our game travels,” guard Dwyane Wade said Thursday. “We’re not a team that played one way at home, one way on the road. We played consistent. They did their job. They took home court from us. We’ve got to go up there and try to get it back.”
Center Chris Bosh said the effort the Heat mustered in Wednesday’s 37-point win might not even be enough in Game 3: “We’ve got to turn it up a lot more. They have something to prove now.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra reminded his players that “we’re still in the hole. It doesn’t matter how much we won by [in Game 2]. It doesn’t change the fact we lost the home court.”
The Heat will need to do it at the raucous United Center, where it suffered its only loss in its past 21 road games: a 101-97 setback in late March, a defeat that ended Miami’s 27-game winning streak.
But this was also the same arena where the Heat closed out the Bulls in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, and where Miami routed them, 86-67, on Feb. 21 this season.
“I love those atmospheres,” LeBron James said. “It’s a madhouse. Great crowd.”
Wade, a Chicago native, agreed but said: “We’re able to deal with more things [now] because we have dealt with some things individuals or teams haven’t dealt with in professional sports. We’ve had rattled moments, but we feel like we bounce back quickly.”
How do teams on the losing end of blowouts typically respond in the playoffs? According to Elias, 18 teams have lost a non-elimination playoff game by 37 points or more. Those teams are 7-11 in the next game.
Paramount for the Heat Friday is maintaining the same maniacal defensive intensity and not playing passively on offense.
In Game 2, the Heat amassed the most lopsided advantage in paint points (56-18) of any team in the past 17 NBA postseasons.
Some of those punctuated fast breaks, but also consider this: The Heat had 33 drives to the basket on half court plays, and shot 68 percent on those shots, according to ESPN. Only five times during the regular season did Miami score more paint points than it did Wednesday.
The Heat shot 28 for 34 in the paint --- remarkable productivity against a Bulls defense that excels at obstructing opponents’ forays to the basket.
And it also helped that the Heat made 9 of 18 three-pointers after missing 17 of 24 in Game 1.
The Heat scored more points on corner three-pointers than any team since 1996-97, but the Bulls were holding the Heat to 37 percent shooting on those attempts this season heading into Game 2. On Wednesday, the Heat shot nine of those corner threes and made five.
This is encouraging, too: Even in the streak-busting March loss in Chicago, the Heat played aggressively, outscoring Chicago, 54-40, in the paint and shooting 48 percent, with James leading the way with 32.
But the Heat that night had no answer for Luol Deng, who scored 28 but is doubtful for Game 3.
The Heat expects continued physicality after a Game 2 marred by nine technical fouls (six against the Bulls and the most combined in a playoff game since 1995), 51 fouls (including one flagrant, by Chris Andersen) and two ejections (Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson).
“Because of the technicals and ejections, there might be a perception it’s going above and beyond basketball [but] it’s not,” Spoelstra said. “You have two physical teams – Type A personalities.”
Said James: “We have to carry that same aggression, that same attitude into Game 3…. They don’t like us. We don’t like them.”
Bosh insisted Game 2 “wasn’t that physical” but “there was a lot of talking back and forth. I’m sure as the series goes on, it will turn up a lot more. We have to keep our composure no matter what happens.”
Wade has played plenty of games in his hometown but said it still “feels weird in a different way. I can’t really explain it.”
While the Bulls still won’t rule out a return by Derrick Rose, it became clear on Thursday that Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich aren’t close to fully recovered from their ailments.
Deng, who had a bad reaction to a spinal tap, said Thursday he has lost 15 pounds during the ordeal: “I’m weak. When I’m moving around, my headaches increase. I want to play, but I don’t know what I can do. I haven’t done anything. I tried to shoot a little bit and I struggled. I couldn't do it.”
Hinrich underwent a second MRI on his bruised calf, and coach Tom Thibodeau said his condition is “not great.”
Thibodeau said Rose’s status has not changed, but neither he nor Rose have specifically addressed a Hoopsworld report, or speculation on TNT, that he might be in uniform Friday.
Erik Spoelstra said he discussed the possibility of Rose's return with his team on Thursday and added it could give the Bulls “a real emotional boost.”
### The NBA said Thursday no decisions have been made regarding any discipline stemming from personal fouls, technical fouls or ejections in Game 2.
Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson were ejected in the fourth quarter for complaining vociferously to referee Scott Foster.
Gibson cursed at Foster, then said afterward, “I should have conducted myself in a better way.” Noah said he also deserved to be ejected.
But a couple of Bulls players suggested their anger was justified, even though the final foul count (27 for the Bulls, 24 for the Heat) wasn’t lopsided.
“Some of the calls we didn’t feel were fair,” Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. “If you feel like you’re being cheated, you’re going to say something about it.”
Bulls guard Nate Robinson said of Noah and Gibson: “They are not robots. They have feelings. I don’t blame them.”
But Spoelstra said he wishes point guard Mario Chalmers had not mentioned “cheap shots” after the game. “I would rather him not say anything about it,” Spoelstra said. “Physical basketball is to be expected. We’re not going to make any complaints to the league or the officiating.”
Chalmers was quoted in the Palm Beach Post as saying: “We got guys that are going to get cheap shots every night – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and [Chris Bosh]. Us, we want to get a cheap shot back.”
James said with how the game has changed, “what happened last night was the equivalent of a couple guys getting punched in the face in the 1980s.”
### Pat Riley finished fifth in the NBA Executive of the Year voting. Denver's Masai Ujiri won it.
### Chalmers was pleased with his Game 2 defensive work against Bulls guard Nate Robinson, who shot 3 for 10 and had more turnovers (four) than assists (two).
“It was personal for me just for the fact that I let my man score that many points,” Chalmers said. “My mindset was just to cut off the head of the team.”
Chalmers also surpassed Tim Hardaway to become the franchise leader in three-pointers in the playoffs. He has 82, on 231 attempts.
### Wade said he is regaining his rhythm after missing a game with a knee injury: “I felt better second quarter on. It’s coming.”
### Bosh said the Heat draws motivation from critics who say they aren’t as effective in a physical game.
“We’re good at every game,” he said. “We’re good at the slow, grind it out pace. We’re good at fast break. We’re good at everything. This is the perfect team for us to play.”
### For all of the praise Jimmy Butler received for his defense on LeBron James in Game 1, James is now shooting 12 for 18 in this series when defended by the second-year Marquette player.
### Notable: The Heat’s 55 bench points in Game 2 were its most ever in a playoff game…. Allen has made all 25 of his free throw attempts this postseason… Chris Andersen is shooting 80 percent (16 for 20) in the playoffs.