Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer had remarked before his team’s series with the Miami Heat that his opponent was mostly comprised of the Big Two. Despite the fact that the Heat have been inked as the Big Three since the unveiling last summer of forwards LeBron James and Chris Bosh and guard Dwyane Wade, Boozer has refused to put Bosh on the same level as James and Wade.

However, the outspoken Bulls forward may have to rethink his stance after a stellar performance by Bosh put Chicago in a 2-1 hole. Behind Bosh’s 34 points, Miami sank Chicago 96-85 in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 22, issuing the Bulls their first two-game losing streak of this year’s postseason.

After missing his first three shots, Bosh simply took over, making 13 of his next 15 shots on the way to a strong night. “I just wanted to be aggressive and just have some kind of imprint on this series,” Bosh said after the game. “It turned out to be a good game.”

“He (Bosh) came in with a very aggressive mindset,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra told reporters. “Ultimately it’s about reading the game. Each game is different we’ve had different guys step up each game. But he put his imprint on the game right from the beginning.”

Boozer led Chicago with 26 points and 17 rebounds but didn’t get much help from league MVP Derrick Rose, who finished with just 20 points and five assists on 8-of-19 shooting. Miami’s defense made it a point to keep Rose out of the paint, a strategy that proved effective as Chicago scored a total of 35 points between the opening and final quarters. James backed Bosh’s efforts with 22 points, 10 assists, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

The Heat improved to 7-0 at home during the 2011 postseason and will look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in the next appearance on their home court. However, history may suggest Miami already has a commanding lead. Game Three winners in the Eastern Conference Finals have advanced to the NBA Finals in each of the past five seasons. Ironically, Miami was the last team to lose a series after winning Game Three in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2005.

Game Four is Tuesday, May 24 at Miami’s American Airlines Arena at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO