Game 3 was as hard fought as Games 1 and 2. The result was the same as Game 2 as the Heat pulled away down the stretch to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Bulls, led by Carlos Boozer, actually out-rebounded the Heat tonight, though they weren't able to make the Heat pay doing so.
Boozer secured 12 rebounds himself. The Heat were led by Dwyane Wade, who had nine rebounds.
Chris Bosh was the biggest of the "Big Three" tonight as he scored a game high 32 points, on 13-of-18 shooting. There's little question that Bosh deserves a lot of credit for this series, and that he's taken the "half" off of his label. He hasn't just played well. He's played hard, and he deserves credit for that.
The Bulls "big three" actually kept pace with the Heat's, but to no avail. Carlos Boozer kept the Bulls with the Heat's Big Three for most of the game, entering the fourth quarter with a 51-49 edge. However, the Heat Big Three pulled away down the stretch and finished with a 73-60 edge.
The Heat Big Three are going to outplay the Bulls big three; that's a given. Some credit needs to be given to Luol Deng, who has actually held LeBron James to less than 25 points two times in three games. James did add 10 assists and six boards though.
On the other hand, more credit needs to go to Bosh, who has shown that if Wade and James are contained, he can lead the team to victory.
Udonis Haslem led all players off the bench with six points, but that's pretty much indicative of the importance of the bench for both teams in this game.
Overall, the Bulls had the edge in bench scoring, 14-12, but neither team got much from their bench, Haslem included.
It's clear that if the Bulls don't earn a solid bench advantage in this series, then they aren't going to win.
Eric Spoelstra has gotten a lot of criticism over the year, and even before this game a lot was made of the plays sent in by Pat Riley, somewhat diminishing his importance as the head coach of the Miami Heat.
However, maybe it's time to give him a little credit. The plays meant little. The defense designed by Spoelstra meant a lot. It's time to give him a lot of credit as one of the better head coaches in the NBA. He has earned the right.
Game 4 will be the most important game in a decade for the Bulls. If they win, it's all square and it's a three-game series with the Bulls getting two games at home. If they lose, they have to win three straight against the Heat or go packing.
While this is certainly an important game for the Heat, it's the next game that's the defining game of the series.
The Bulls will need to play better than they have played to win it. The Heat have outplayed the Bulls thus far, but the series is not over. Game 4 will be the game that decides this series. If the Bulls win, they win the series; if the Heat win, they win the series.
In order to win the Bulls are going to need to score. They've been too reluctant and passive on the offensive end. Unless they become aggressive on the offensive end, they will not win this series. For the Heat, they really just need to continue doing what they've been doing.
Game 4 will be Tuesday night in Miami at 8:30 EST.