MIAMI — Only one team has held the Miami Heat below 90 points on their home floor this season. That would be the Chicago Bulls, and for good measure, they’ve now done it twice.
So by now, it’s obvious: If there’s a team in the NBA that has Miami’s number, it has to be the Bulls.
Nate Robinson scored 27 points and dominated in the final minutes — after needing 10 stitches to sew up his lip — while Jimmy Butler added 21 points and a career high-tying 14 rebounds as the Bulls pulled off a stunner by beating Miami 93-86 Monday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Actually, maybe it’s not that much of a stunner anymore. Since LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all ignored overtures from the Bulls and decided to team up in Miami three years ago, Chicago has a 9-8 record against the Heat.
“I’ve played on some tough teams,” Robinson said. “But this one, there’s something a little different, something special about this group.”
It’s only one game, something plenty of Bulls players and coach Tom Thibodeau pointed out incessantly afterward. But even a 1-0 lead in a series typically leads to advancement, so for the Heat, adversity has arrived in a big way in a season where little has gone wrong.
“It’s not going to be pretty but playoffs are ugly,” said Bosh, who was held to nine points on 3-for-10 shooting. “That’s what it’s about. It’s been a little bit too pretty around here, to be honest with you.
“We’re in a situation where dudes are not going to be able to sleep and we’re going to have to give it our all in Game 2 and figure everything out.”
When it comes to facing Miami, the Bulls have plenty figured out.
They snapped Miami’s 27-game winning streak in the regular season — the second-longest in NBA history — and now toppled the champs again, this time ending a run of 12 straight Heat victories overall. Miami has lost five games at home this season, two to the Bulls, who held them to 89 on Jan. 4.
James struggled through a two-point first half before finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Wade added 14 for the Heat, who had no one else in double figures, shot 40 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 46-32.
“I’m not stunned,” James said. “This is what the playoffs is all about. We’re going against a really good team.”
A seven-point deficit midway through the fourth wasn’t enough to doom the Bulls, who finished the game on a 10-0 run in the final 1:59. And to think, the Bulls weren’t anywhere near full strength. Kirk Hinrich was out again with a calf injury. Luol Deng isn’t even expected to rejoin the team until Tuesday, after dealing with an illness apparently so severe that a spinal tap — and other tests since — were needed to rule out things like meningitis.
“So proud of my team man, this bed might be good luck after all,” Deng wrote on Twitter after the game, with a photo of him in a hospital bed.
Oh, and Derrick Rose remains sidelined — as he’s been since April 2012.
No problem. The Heat are 41-3 in their last 44 games — with two of those losses to the Bulls, who are now 3-2 against Miami this season.
“I think when you’re facing adversity, you have to be mentally tough,” Thibodeau said. “But this is just one game. We have to play a lot better in our next one.”
Miami was outscored 35-24 in the fourth, something that drew the ire of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra afterward.
“There’s no excuses,” said Spoelstra, whose team had not played in more than a week. “We’re not making any excuses for time off or anything else.”