After LeBron James picked himself up, dusted himself off and led Miami to a Game 3 victory over the Bulls, Saturday was a quiet time in this second-round playoff series.
The Bulls didnít practice and the Heat had an optional workout, with Game 4 not until Monday at the United Center. Tickets are still available.
So letís look at some relevant questions for this break in the action:
Q. Will Nazr Mohammed be suspended for Game 4?
A. Doubtful. It was a push, not a punch. But considering James was in the process of getting whistled for a technical foul, Mohammed should have quit while he was ahead and stayed in the game.
Q. Did the Bulls blow their best chance at extending this series?
A. That was a winnable game Friday, but they have room to play much better Monday and even the series at 2-2. If that happens, the Bulls ensure the series returns to the United Center for Game 6 and give themselves two chances to get that third win and a chance to pull the ultimate upset.
In coach Tom Thibodeauís blueprint for this series (Celtics-Cavaliers, 2010), Boston trailed 2-1 after losing Game 3 at home by 29 points, then won the next three.
Q. What was Thibodeau complaining about, exactly, after Game 3?
A. Trying to spin the officiating to your teamís favor has a long tradition among NBA coaches, and Thibodeauís primary mentor, Jeff Van Gundy, was among the best.
For the Bulls, this really goes back to 2011, when free-throw attempts made a big difference in the conference finals. That situation was a little different, though, seeing James go to the line for offenses that were barely touch fouls, while Derrick Rose would draw more contact and rarely get calls.
Fast forward to March 27, when James characterized the Bullsí layup-preventing fouls as ďnon-basketball plays.Ē Considering how James conned the referees into calling a couple of fouls with fake eye-poke reaction in 2011, itís no wonder an outside observer like Celtics GM Danny Ainge weighed in on the ridiculousness of the situation.
That said, the officiating hasnít cost the Bulls any games in this series. On Friday, they needed to make more free throws, drop more shots and tighten up the defense in the fourth quarter.
Q. But what about the 2 early fouls on Jimmy Butler? And the loose-ball foul late in the game against Joakim Noah?
A. The 2 fouls on Butler were a little cheap, but when the first one is called, he probably should stop reaching in so much. Keep in mind, Butler still played all 48 minutes and James stayed fairly quiet until the last few minutes, so Butlerís fouls didnít turn out to be a big deal.
On Noahís rebound battle with Chris Bosh, there was definitely contact. The whistle blew a second or two late, which always annoys the fans, but itís tough to argue there wasnít a foul. Itís more of a ďin the final three minutes of a playoff game, they should let things goĒ slant.
Q. Will there be repercussions from Luol Dengís medical problems?
A. That really depends on Deng and his representatives. Hereís what we do know: Deng had a bad reaction to a procedure to test for a disease he didnít have.
Hereís what we donít know: Was the spinal tap botched somehow, or was this an unavoidable side effect? Were they too hasty in performing the procedure without considering the potential of a bad reaction?
Bacterial meningitis can be fatal, so playing it safe is an understandable path. Obviously, things went wrong, and itís possible Deng will miss the entire series because of it.
Q. Why isnít Richard Hamilton playing?
A. Itís pretty simple. After Hamiltonís back problems, the coaching staff doesnít think heís healthy enough to play. In fact, he was offered the chance to go home at the end of the regular season but declined, according to a source.
Behavior hasnít been an issue. That wispy frame has been through a lot of wear and tear, and Hamiltonís career might be at an end.
Q. Why wonít the Derrick Rose rumors go away?
A. The Bulls donít expect him to play this season, thatís been the case for a while. But then a rumor gets way more attention than it merits and all of the sudden TNT devotes 30 minutes of discussion to Roseís impending return.
That said, it is still conceivable Rose could tell Thibodeau on Monday heís ready to go and everything could change. But please, Bulls fans, donít get your hopes up.
Q. Is there any chance Nate Robinson or Marco Belinelli come back next season?
A. Both have definitely earned a higher salary than they got this year, so outside offers will be a factor. The Bulls will have the taxpayer exception of $3.18 million to work with, but theyíre already above the tax threshold with the eight players under contract (Rose, Boozer, Noah, Deng, Gibson, Butler, Hinrich, Teague).
Anything the Bulls pay these guys would be subject to the luxury tax, so thatís an issue before considering whether theyíre even signable.
It certainly looks like Butler-Deng is the 2-3 combo of the future. With Rose back and Kirk Hinrich under contract for another year, will the Bulls think itís worth the money to chase Robinson or Belinelli?
The Bulls are concerned that Robinsonís happy demeanor could shift if his role drops. But with the need for a second scorer to go with Rose, why not Robinson in that role? Maybe he could be the Jason Terry of this team, a reliable crunchtime option.
But money is a big issue. Thereís no telling how much another team might offer Robinson or Belinelli this summer.
Q. Who has the more annoying public-address announcer, Miami or Detroit?
A. This question has been widely discussed among media members this week, and the answer is obvious. Miamiís guy is the worst.
The Detroit guy (John Mason) is creative and original. The Miami guy does nothing but scream into the microphone with the same delivery, and his two catchphrases (ďDos minutosĒ and ďOn your feet and make some noise ...Ē) are kindergarten quality. Heís in a class by himself, no question.
ü Follow Mikeís Bulls reports on Twitter @McGrawDHBulls and check out his All Bull blog at dailyherald.com.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.