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Preview: Heat don’t need to solve Bulls riddle

May 8, 2013, 7:00 PM EST

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat - Game One Getty Images

The Heat are 2-2 against the Bulls and 39-1 against everyone else since Feb. 3.

It’s easy to fall into a narrative that the Chicago has Miami’s number. But looking closer, that’s not quite the case.

The Heat have been so dominant this season, an opponent winning two of four games actually qualifies as a huge success. And even then, the sentiment ignores that Miami has outscored the Bulls by 20 points in those four games.

The Heat trail this series 1-0, a crucial element most understate when projecting a series winner mid-round, but the Heat are still probably favored to beat the Bulls. Again, that speaks to how dominant Miami is – but also depleted the Bulls are.

In many ways, the Heat merely have to wait out Chicago.

Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich are out and likely out. Jimmy Butler is playing 48 minutes every game. Nate Robinson is on an incredible hot streak.

I’d bet neither Deng nor Hinrich return this series, unless they return too soon to be effective. Butler can’t sustain this load while taking the tiring task of guarding LeBron James. Robinson, as he’s done his whole career, will have a cold streak and keep shooting through it.

Plus, there are the 3-pointers. The Heat shot just 7-of-24 from beyond the arc in Game 1, despite getting many open looks. The NBA’s second-best 3-point shooting team during the regular season (behind the Warriors) won’t keep missing those looks.

Eventually, the Heat should prove their elite level. But a playoff series can be a small sample. Lose tonight, and Miami might run out of time.

The Heat are better than the Bulls. Will they show it soon enough?

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