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Short-handed Bulls know what they’re up against in Game 5

Nate RobinsNorris Cole Shane Battier

Nate Robinson, Norris Cole, Shane Battier

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GAME 1

Bulls 93
at Heat 86
GAME 2

at Heat 115
Bulls 78GAME 3

Heat 104
at Bulls 94GAME 4

Heat 88
at Bulls 65GAME 5

6 p.m. Wednesday
at Heat, TNT

GAME 6 if necessary

7 or 8:30 p.m. Friday
at Bulls, ESPN

GAME 7 if necessary

TBD Sunday
at Heat, TNT

Updated: June 16, 2013 6:28AM



On the brink of elimination, Bulls players are still beating their chests and trying to show a certain toughness, but the intangibles they have worshipped all season suddenly seem like false idols.

‘‘[The Heat] is a veteran team, they got strong play, and they’re the defending champs for a reason,’’ forward Taj Gibson said. ‘‘We’re trying to beat them, and it’s tough. Every game is so tough.’’

The Bulls won the first game in Miami but have been shut out since and are now down 3-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals — and short-handed.

Kirk Hinrich (bruised left calf), Luol Deng (complications from a spinal tap) and the perpetually sidelined Derrick Rose (left knee) have yet to see a minute in this series. While Deng was made active before Game 4, he wasn’t on the bench.

Coach Tom Thibodeau was hoping the day off Tuesday would allow Deng and Hinrich to continue to improve. Both would be limited if they play in Game 5. The plan is to see where they are at Wednesday’s shootaround.

There continues to be no finger-pointing at sidelined players, including Rose.

‘‘That’s a distraction,’’ Gibson said when asked about the seasonlong Rose drama. ‘‘If you keep thinking about why this, why that, pointing fingers, that’s like a sucker move. That’s not how we believe in each other. We believe that if one guy is down, no matter what, we’re going to believe in him, give him confidence, and we’re going to fight no matter what. That’s how we’ve been playing.

‘‘But sometimes you need a whole lot more than just that.’’

No blaming Booze

Carlos Boozer has been a punching bag for Bulls fans the last three seasons, especially for his defense, but Boozer isn’t the one who allowed Heat center Chris Bosh to go off the last two games. That was Joakim Noah, newly named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.

In Game 3, Bosh went 8-for-16 from the field for 20 points and 19 rebounds. In Game 4, he was 7-for-10 for 14 points.

‘‘Chris is giving us just what we need,’’ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ‘‘It’s what this series is about.’’

Boozer has been guarding Udonis Haslem to start off games while Noah has been responsible for Bosh. The Heat continues to keep Bosh outside, making Noah choose between helping out with a driving LeBron James or committing to contain Bosh’s outside shooting.



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