LeBron James and the Miami Heat can close out the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night with a win over the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT). That Miami is in this position is a surprise to many; the Bulls finished the regular season with the NBA's best record and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. And while Chicago didn't exactly look sharp in the first two rounds, most expected a Bulls win over Miami, or at the very least a long series.
But the Heat are just one win away from the NBA Finals. Derrick Rose has been relatively locked up; Miami's maligned point guards Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers are done as prescribed, and the Heat have offered up lots of help, forcing the MVP into jumpers and passes. On the other end, LeBron (35 points in Game 4) and Chris Bosh (two 30-point games in the series) have been excellent; Dwyane Wade has had a bit of trouble, but excelled in overtime in the Game 4 win. The Big Three has lived up to its billing, shredding Chicago's incredible defense while defending very, very well on the other end.
In the meantime, Udonis Haslem has come back to be a factor -- should Miami advance, he'll reacquaint himself with Dirk Nowitzki, a rival from the 2006 NBA Finals -- and Mike Miller finally broke out. Miller has undergone a harrowing time, as his newborn daughter remains in a Miami hospital; the trip to Chicago for Game 5 is the first time Miller has been away from his wife and daughter since the latter's birth last week. He had his best game of the playoffs in Game 4, with his heart in that hospital room.