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Miami Heat Defeat Chicago Bulls, Look Forward to Knicks/Pacers Conclusion

The Miami Heat were able to overcome the scrappy Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of the series earlier this week, based largely on a gutty performance from perpetually banged up All-Star Dwyane Wade, who scored 18 points.

“I knew it was going to be a tough fourth quarter, so I wanted to make sure I was good,” Wade said. “I didn’t go back [to the locker room] because I wasn’t feeling good. Of all the games in the playoffs, this was the best I’ve felt.”

Wade had one of the best minute-long sequences you’re likely to see in basketball this year late in the game. He blocked a shot, grabbed a defensive rebound, an offensive rebound at the other end of the floor and capped off the insane sequence with a putback slam dunk. It was one of the key plays of the game, and helped cement Miami’s 94-91 victory.

“I just took a mental day [Tuesday] for myself, just to get myself ready,” Wade said. “The biggest thing is to un-cloud your mind and just play basketball. I would love to be one of those guys who never, ever gets injured and see where my career would be right now after 10 years.”

“You do one of two things,” Wade said. “You either sit out and watch your team play, or you get out there and try to find a way to help your team. There are really no other options. This ain’t the regular season. You don’t have time to take 10 games off to try to get back. This is the time of the year when you try to do whatever you can.”

Wade’s teammates were appreciative of his effort, which proved necessary to conquer the tough-as-nails Chicago Bulls.

“Dwyane is uncanny,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “When the competition is at its highest, and its fiercest, he finds a way.”

“I saw the look in his eye from the start of shootaround,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “His shoes were tied, he was ready to go, pads up. He set the tone. When you see him like that, you know he’s going to step up to the challenge. He’s not making excuses for himself.”

“He is a Hall of Famer,” James said. “He has two rings. He doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone. As his teammate and brother, I love the fight that he continues to give. When he’s out on the floor … he’s always a threat… I’ll go on and on about how great he is. I really don’t care for the trash talk that he receives.”

The Bulls, meanwhile, contributed one of the all-time great playoff performances minus almost all of their star players. Derrick Rose was still out from his torn ACL in last year’s playoffs, Luol Deng was hospitalized with a serious illness, and Joakim Noah was severely hobbled with injured feet. If they have all of their players in the lineup and healthy next season, they could make a very real run at the Miami Heat’s dominant position in the Eastern Conference.

“Obviously we’re disappointed in losing the series,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “But I was never disappointed in our team. I thought our team fought hard all year long. There was no quit in them.”

For now, the Miami Heat look forward to playing the winners of the Pacers-Knicks series; last night, the Knicks avoided elimination to take the series to Game 6 on Saturday night. The Pacers are an early 4.5-point favorite at home in that one. Miami no doubt wants the Knicks to scrape by; Indy’s staunch and league-leading defense could give Miami flashbacks to what they just faced against the Bulls.

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