Dan Craig and the rest of the Heat’s video staff finished off the Chicago preparation on Thursday night.
The Bulls, however, could not finish off Brooklyn.
Erik Spoelstra, once a video coordinator and now the Heat head coach, knows the uncertainty and frustrations of that assignment all too well.
“They just threw up their papers and DVDs,” Spoelstra said, smiling.
And got back to working on Brooklyn.
But at least they weren’t throwing up dinner. That’s what Nate Robinson — one of several Bulls afflicted with an illness or injury — was doing on the United Center sideline in Game 6, during the loss that sent the series to Game 7. Robinson, who played 42 minutes out of necessity, is expected to be available tonight in Brooklyn, as the Bulls take a third and final shot at advancing to meet Miami.
Who will be with him? The Bulls may struggle to field four. Joakim Noah has a torn foot tendon, though he has limped on. Kirk Hinrich has missed the past two games with an ankle sprain. Taj Gibson, weakened by the flu, played only 17 minutes Thursday. Luol Deng was so sick that he underwent a spinal tap for meningitis and then returned to the hospital Friday morning, tweeting that he might need to spend the night.
Then there’s Derrick Rose.
Doctors have cleared him to play.
He has cleared himself to cheer.
So, with the Bulls in such a staggered state, and with time for them to recover prior to the second round, you might argue that Chicago would be the preferred opponent for Miami.
I would challenge that.
A relatively healthy Nets squad — with Joe Johnson (foot) the one significant exception — is no more imposing an opponent than a hobbled Bulls team. There are two reasons for that. First, as TNT’s Charles Barkley corrected observed, the Nets play with an alarming and rather irritating absence of passion. Second, the Tom Thibodeau system tests the Heat as much as, or more than, any of Chicago’s players.
The latter has been evident the past two seasons, when Chicago has beaten the Heat with Rose out, with Rose shooting 1-for-13, with Rose out and then, most recently, with Rose, Joakim Noah and Marco Belinelli out. The Bulls as currently constituted can’t win four out of seven games against the Heat, but they could win one or two, by crowding the corners, banging bodies, hitting the boards, igniting their crowd, making Miami work.
Could the Nets win one?
As a franchise, they haven’t won any of the past 17 against LeBron James. This Nets roster, while more talented than many of its predecessors, put up little resistance in the three matchups this season, losing by an average of 21 points. There is simply nothing to fear on their side, not unless Deron Williams demonstrates he’s still a top-5 point guard, Johnson provides strong two-way play for four quarters and Brook Lopez demands the ball.
If none of that has happened against the battered Bulls, why would it happen against rested Miami?
So whatever team wins tonight, the Heat really can’t lose.
Noteworthy: Dwyane Wade (bruised right knee), who hadn’t played or practiced in eight days, participated in Friday’s full-scale workout. He acknowledged that he is working through the situation mentally and physically, continuing to call himself “day to day.” He is expected to play Monday. … After “going crazy with the razor,” Shane Battier had shaved his briefest of playoff beards down to a 1970s cop-show mustache. But that look won’t last either because, in his view, his 2-year-old daughter, Eloise, didn’t share his “appreciation for irony.” She refused to kiss him Friday morning. “So the mustache is going bye-bye,” he said.