It’s a good omen for Miami, but James knows firsthand how it can turn around in a hurry. He was playing for Cleveland when the Cavaliers lost 108-72 to Washington in a 2008 playoff game and went on to win the series.
“It’s just one game,” he said. “Even though you got dominated the game before and you didn’t do things right, it’s still one game. You don’t get two wins if you win by over 30 or over 40. You only get one game. They’re back in their home building, where they’re very good and we have to be ready for it.”
It looks as if the Bulls will be without Deng, Hinrich and Rose once again. Thibodeau said the team was awaiting the results of the latest MRI for Hinrich, who hasn’t played since Game 4 of Chicago’s first-round playoff series against Brooklyn on April 27. Rose hasn’t played all year, but no one has ruled out what would be an emotional return for the 2011 NBA MVP.
Even with the depleted roster, the Bulls managed to win Game 7 on the road against the Nets and then steal home-court advantage against Miami. Bouncing back against the Heat could be a matter of just keeping their cool after they were whistled for six of the nine technical fouls during the emotional Game 2, leading to ejections for Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.
“We got to do better. We got to do a much better job of that,” Thibodeau said. “Can’t get sidetracked. We know how it will be called. We’re not going to get calls. We just got to be tough, mentally, physically, emotionally. We got to be a lot stronger.”
Asked what he meant about not getting the calls, Thibodeau responded: “It’s just the way it is, you know. We didn’t allow that to impact us in Game 1 and I thought we allowed it to impact us in Game 2.”
Deng watched Game 2 on TV, and said he thought the Bulls let it get away from them. He said the trip to the practice facility was his first time out of the house since a “scary” couple of days.
Deng became sick during the Brooklyn series, missing practice on May 1 and Game 6 the next day. He felt so bad that he went to the hospital, where he had a spinal tap to rule out meningitis.
“After that, I just didn’t respond well,” he said. “Started having severe headaches. Was struggling to walk. Started feeling really weak. Started throwing up … I couldn’t control my body really, and because of that I lost a lot of weight.”
Doctors recommended a blood patch to help heal the damage from the spinal tap, and Deng had to stay in the hospital for more than a day until his white blood cell count came down enough to allow him to have the second procedure. He dropped about 15 pounds, but is feeling a little better now and said he’s proud of how the team has played without him.
“Guys are going out there and just playing together,” he said. “Just seeing them do it together is really the main thing. … Watching it obviously is a lot harder when you’re not out there, but just seeing your teammates play that hard and fighting together.”
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.