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Heat find comfort at home

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports
Heat find comfort at home
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Dwyane Wade and the Heat are seeking their 10th straight win at American Airlines Arena

MIAMI – Chris Bosh(notes) couldn’t remember the last time his Miami Heat lost at home. Or maybe he was just pretending not to.

The Heat have won all seven of their home playoff games and haven’t lost at American Airlines Arena since April 6, a string of nine games. Another home victory Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals would give Miami a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and push them within one win of advancing to the NBA Finals.

“We’re just trying to do our best to protect home court,” Bosh said. “That’s one thing we talked about in the season: We need to make it one of the hardest places in the league, if not the hardest, to win basketball games. And if somebody does get out of here, then it was the hardest game of their life.

“Now we are playing with a lot of confidence at home and we need to protect home court. That’s our No. 1 advantage right now and we have to keep using it.”

Only the Bulls had more home regular-season wins (36) in the East than the Heat’s 30. But the Heat took home-court advantage in the East finals by beating the Bulls in Game 2 at the United Center. Both sides know there is a big difference between going back to Chicago for Game 5 with the series tied or the Bulls on the verge of elimination. If the Bulls fall into a 1-3 hole, it’s hard to imagine them beating the Heat three straight times to advance.

Game 4, Bulls forward Carlos Boozer(notes) said, is a “must-win.”

The Heat's home winning “means nothing to us,” Boozer said. The Bulls won in Miami in their lone regular-season visit on March 6.

“We’ve been a great road team all season,” Boozer said. “We feel like we can beat this team on their court to advance no matter. [Tuesday's] a huge game for us; [Tuesday's] a must-win.”

Said Luol Deng(notes): “Our focus is going to be there. We’re fighters.”

What the Bulls need is to find Derrick Rose(notes) some help. The Heat have limited the playmaker to 23 points and 6.3 assists per game on 39.1 percent shooting in the series. In the Bulls’ Game 3 loss, he scored just two of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.

The Heat “are playing better team basketball now all around, defensively, offensively, communicating to one another,” Rose said. “That's something we have to bring to the game and I think we have to be aggressive – really aggressive.”

Heat guard Dwyane Wade(notes) said the key to defending Rose is making sure he sees a wall of at least three defenders when he tries to go to the basket.

“Obviously, he’s the head of the snake,” Wade said. “We understand as he goes, they go.”

Bosh said the Heat were focused during Monday’s practice, knowing the importance of Game 4. If the Heat win at home Tuesday, their next game at American Airlines Arena might not be until Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The Bulls “have a great team,” LeBron James(notes) said. “I’m not about to say that they’re down and out. This is a great team and we look forward to the challenge.”

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