The NBA playoff schedule has come under some controversy lately. In the last week, there has been some criticism on how the Bulls and Heat have been treated, as this playoff series has had longer delays than the Mavericks-Thunder showdown. Some of that was necessary, since Games 1 and 2 for the Bulls and Heat coincided with Oprah Winfrey’s big finale at the United Center. But even after Game 2, the finalists took another three-day rest, although the series has moved to Miami.
While Chicago and Miami’s schedule together has been a bit imbalanced, that pattern will finally end tonight. After Game 3, the teams will play every two days, which means that this heavily hyped series can finally settle down.
Despite having the most anticipated series of the playoffs, the Bulls and Heat have only played two games in a week. Both games turned out quite differently, as the Bulls blew out the Heat in the second half of Game 1, while Miami came through in the final minutes of Game 2.
For Sunday’s rubber match, the Heat looks to take its first lead of the series, now that it has home court advantage. Miami hasn’t lost at home in the postseason, while Chicago has already lost twice on the road. But in the second round, the Bulls decisively won Game 3 on the road against the Hawks, to break a 1-1 tie.
If Chicago does the same over Miami, it will reestablish the control that it lost in Game 2. The Bulls missed a chance to put the Heat in a deep hole, yet Miami got its first win over Chicago in the regular and postseason instead. Now that the Heat knows that it can beat the Bulls at last, it could open the floodgates for greater damage.
But Chicago can take some inspiration from Dallas, after the Mavericks came through on the road to break a 1-1 tie. Although the Mavericks also blew a potential 2-0 lead by losing Game 2 at home, Dallas rallied back in Oklahoma City, for a 93-87 Game 3 win.
Yet no matter what happens in this series, fans can be reassured that there will be no more long droughts. After sharing the stage with Oprah, and after the NBA saved Game 3 for Sunday instead of Saturday, the Bulls and Heat can finally have a normal playoff schedule the rest of the way.
Now that this mega showdown has no more long rests, Chicago and Miami can truly get under way, especially since the series is now a best-of-five. Game 3 gets under way at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
NBA.com- “2011 Playoffs Schedule”
Chicago Sun-Times- “Bulls, Heat don’t mind being pre-empted for Oprah”
SI.com- “Durant, Thunder go cold in Game 3 loss to Mavs”