Something about playing the Miami Heat brings out the best in the Chicago Bulls. Since March 1, the Heat have lost three times, twice to the Bulls.

The Bulls nearly made it three on Wednesday.

The Heat avoided a disastrous loss, and eliminated Chicago with a 94-91 victory in Game 5.

Miami advances to the Eastern Conference finals for the third consecutive season and will play the winner of the Indiana Pacers-New York Knicks series. If the Pacers beat the Knicks in Game 5 Thursday, they will play the Heat in Game 1 on Monday in Miami. If the Knicks win, the East finals will start Wednesday in Miami.

Miami is now 9-2 in closeout games since forwards LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined guard Dwyane Wade in the summer of 2010, and as the playoff cliché goes, closeout games are indeed among the most difficult to win.

The Heat almost didn't. They squandered an 18-point lead, overcame an 11-point deficit and finished off Chicago with a xx-xx fourth quarter.

"We can expect that last-breath effort tonight from them," he said Wednesday after Miami's morning shootaround.

The Bulls, playing basically six players, gave everything they had, and ultimately ran out of everything they had against a more talented team.

Miami backup Norris Cole scored five points in a stretch of two minutes, 27 seconds, and Wade, playing with a bruised and sometimes painful right knee, had two big floaters in the lane and a putback dunk, helping Miami re-take and hold onto the lead in the fourth quarter.