Outside the Score: Bulls-Heat

Outside the Score: Bulls-Heat

May 13, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Game Date Location Result
1 Mon., May 6 American Airlines Arena (W) 93-86
2 Wed., May 8 American Airlines Arena (L) 115-78
3 Fri., May 10 United Center (L) 104-94
4 Mon., May 13 United Center (L) 88-65
5 Wed., May 15 American Airlines Arena (L) 94-91

Game 4 is here and for the Bulls it's the biggest game of their season. Here are five things I'll be watching outside of the score.

Norris Cole. Are you kidding me? One Miami beat writer recently described Cole as one of the worst rotation players in the NBA this season. Well, he's killing the Bulls and thriving in the playoffs. The kid from Cleveland State is a perfect 8-for-8 from three point range in this series. In fact, he's 10-for-13 in the playoffs from downtown. The Heat kept marching Cole out there this season and now it's paying off. He's only missed four shots against the Bulls and he's scored 18 points in each of the last two games.

Jimmy Butler. Just in time for Ironman 3, Butler continues to eat up all the minutes with the Bulls' roster destroyed by injuries. He's played all 48 minutes in four of the last five playoff games. Oh, and he's guarding LeBron. You are watching a guy who has locked up a spot as a starter on next year's team. Tonight, he needs to avoid early foul trouble.

[RELATED -- Bulls notes: Deng, Hinrich 'likely out' for Game 4]

Rebounds. You can throw out all the other stuff. If there is one stat -- outside of the score -- that seems to tell the story, it's rebounding. The team that cleans the glass almost always wins in this rivalry. The Bulls won the battle in Game 1 at Miami. The Heat have enjoyed the rebounding edge in both of their wins. Dennis Rodman is celebrating his 52nd birthday today. The Bulls need to attack the glass like "The Worm" if they want to even the series.

Ejections. Who's getting the hook in Game 4? The officials have ejected three Bulls players in this series. Is tonight the night a member of the Heat hits the showers early? It will be interesting to watch the fine line between being aggressive and playing with poise.

[MORE: Thibodeau fined after Game 3 comments]

Thibs. Finally, I'll be watching from the 300 level pressbox. I'm anxious to see if I can actually make out the vein in Tom Thibodeau's neck from up there. My vision isn't what it used to be, but Thibs should be in rare form tonight.