MIAMI — Despite nine technical fouls being issued, 51 personal fouls, two ejected Bulls and a foul-mouthed, finger-flipping female fan who went viral, most Heat players said the physical nature of their Game 2 rout was blown out of proportion.
And that even the well-behaved fans haven’t seen anything yet as the series shifts to the United Center, also known as the Madhouse on Madison (Avenue) or the “lion’s den’,’ as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra put it.
“It really wasn’t that physical, and I’m sure as the series goes on it’ll turn up a lot more,” Heat center Chris Bosh said after practice Thursday afternoon at AmericanAirlines Arena. “We have to have that physical mind-set to just bring it to those guys.
“When the whistle blows that means play stops. If a guy scores, I’m moving on to the next play, but everything in between is a fight. I enjoy it and . .. people like watching it.”
Heat forward LeBron James is somewhat new to the Bulls-Heat rivalry that dates back to the Michael Jordan years, when orange-haired instigator Dennis Rodman would literally wrestle Alonzo Mourning in the post in an effort to get the Heat center ejected.
However, the four-time MVP was enraged after the March 27 loss to Chicago that not only snapped Miami’s 27-game winning streak but also snapped James’ patience after getting tackled by Kirk Hinrich on one play, and later knocked down by forward Taj Gibson (who was ejected Wednesday after a profanity-laced tirade directed at referee Scott Foster).
James then elbowed power forward Carlos Boozer and drew a flagrant foul, but he, too, felt Wednesday’s game was tame in comparison to the rugged days of the “Bad Boys” Pistons.
“We got a rivalry and the same way they don’t like us, we don’t like them and that’s how it is,” said James, who got into it just a little with Bulls center Joakim Noah, who drew the first of two technical fouls before being tossed with 10:13 to play.
“What happened last night would’ve been [like a] couple of guys getting punched in the face in the ‘80s. I don’t really get into it too much. I hold my ground, but I don’t get too rah-rah about it because nothing’s going to happen.”
Spoelstra said he had no problems with the officiating and didn’t consider anything out of the norm.
“You have two culture organizations who pride themselves on defense and toughness, so that’s what you’ll get,” Spoelstra said. “Because of the technicals and ejections there’s going to be a perception that it’s gone above and beyond basketball. It’s not. Both teams are competing and want it to be decided between the floor lines.”
Heat guard Dwyane Wade agreed it’s nice to have two enforcer-types like Udonis Haslem and Chris “The Birdman” Andersen when the chippy play begins.
Haslem knocked trash-talking guard Nate Robinson to the floor on the first play of the game to set the tone. Nine seconds later, Wade was pushed from behind while driving and received a technical for throwing the ball at Marco Belinelli.
In the second quarter, Andersen was whistled for a flagrant foul after body-checking Belinelli into the Bulls’ bench.
“We love Birdman, he’s a force who brings something we’ve been missing around here,” Wade said. “It’s great to have guys like him and U.D., you needs those guys surrounding us.”
HEAT PREPARE FOR EVERYONE
Although it’s still unlikely that any of the three sidelined Bulls will play Friday night, Spoelstra spent time on Thursday talking to his team about Hinrich, Luol Deng and possibly Derrick Rose.
“We have to be ready for it,” Spoelstra said. “We anticipate that Deng and Hinrich will likely be back, and possibly Rose for a real emotional boost for them. But it doesn’t change the way we play.
“We still want to be aggressive, we still will try to put pressure on the ball regardless of who it is.”
WADE ON MEND
Wade said his legs and wind are coming around after he took nine days off after Game 3 against the Bucks and the start of the Bulls’ series to rest his sore right knee.
“I felt better in the second quarter in the last game,” said Wade, who hit his last six shots Wednesday, albeit three on layups and two dunks for 15 points. “You just feel your legs get under you a little bit more, your wind gets a little bit better. It’s coming around, so hopefully Game 3, it’ll be better.”
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