Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said after Saturday’s win in Brooklyn that he didn’t think many people expected Chicago to win.
“We’ve been hearing that noise all year that we don’t have enough, that we’re missing this and we’re missing that,” Boozer said.
James insisted the Heat aren’t among those who might think that way. In fact, the now four-time MVP said he expected Chicago to pull off the rare trick of winning a Game 7 on the road against Brooklyn.
“It’s how it should be in the East right now,” James said. “It’s the top four teams. That’s what I believe. No matter the seedings, it’s the top four teams, with us, Chicago and Indiana-New York.”
Bulls center Joakim Noah said he expected a physical matchup — “it’s going to be a war,” he said — and the Heat said Sunday they were bracing for plenty of rugged play in this series.
In fact, it almost sounds like both sides would be disappointed otherwise.
“It’s going to be hard-fought,” Heat forward Shane Battier said. “It’s going to be physical. It’s going to be emotional. And I think it’s going to be well-played. That’s all that matters.”
Miami needed only five games to beat the Bulls in the East finals in 2011, even after losing Game 1 of that series. The teams figured to be on a collision course last season before Rose went down in the first round, and this year Miami dropped a 101-97 decision in Chicago that left the Heat six games shy of matching the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA-record 33-game winning streak.
And now, here they go again.
“We’ve got to win four games and we’ve got to take it game by game,” Wade said. “Can’t worry about that. That was the regular season. That was fun. That’s over with. This is a different ballgame.”