Heat vs. Bulls: X-Factors That Will Determine Pivotal Game 3

Joshua AxelrodCorrespondent IMay 10, 2013

The Bulls need to keep their tempers in check if they want to beat Miami in Game 3.
The Bulls need to keep their tempers in check if they want to beat Miami in Game 3.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

There are a few things besides the play of LeBron James that will determine the winner of Game 3 between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls.

Obviously the effectiveness of the Heat’s Big Three is important. For the Bulls, it is all about Kirk Hinrich’s calf, Luol Deng’s immune system and Derrick Rose’s psyche.

But there are a few X-factors that will also play a big role in determining who takes control of this series.

Miami’s Shooters

Everyone always touts James’s court vision, which lives up to the hype. He has an uncanny ability to find the open guy no matter where they are or how out-of-control he looks.

Of course, none of those awesome passing skills matter if his teammates are not hitting shots. He can make all the acrobatic passes he wants, but his shooters need to be knocking down threes to make James’s efforts worth it.

Guys like Norris Cole, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, and Shane Battier need to make James look good. Comparing their shooting numbers from their first two games against the Bulls shows the difference.

In Game 1, those five guys were a combined 5-18 from beyond the arc with a combined 32 points, and the Heat lost 93-86. They shot much more efficiently in Game 2, going 8-14 from three range with a combined 55 points in a 115-78 thrashing.

Basically, James needs his supporting cast to make him look good. Another 21-point effort from Allen should do the trick.

Chicago’s Tempers

Game 2 was an overall debacle for the Bulls. Not only did they get pounded to the tune of a 37-point defeat, but they also somehow managed to tally seven technical fouls and two ejections.

Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague each earned a technical for various wrongdoings, while Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson both got ejected for running their mouths.  

To be fair, Miami also racked up three technicals. The difference is that no one got ejected, and the Heat were clearly able to get into the Bulls’ heads.

Chicago has to keep its composure in Game 3. If they let the Heat psyche them out again, they will not stand a chance.

Jimmy Butler’s Defense

James tried to be a facilitator in Game 1 and never really found his groove. Of course, his ineffectiveness was also due to the fact Butler defended him about as well as you can.

He made the King’s life more difficult at every turn, contesting every shot and winning the mental battle as well. Not bad for a rookie, especially considering he also finished Game 1 with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

James still managed to earn 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists off Butler. But none of those numbers came easily.

Chicago needs Butler to play all 48 minutes again, while producing offensively and checking James. It certainly will not be easy, but he did it once so there is no reason he cannot do it again.