It's a miracle he lasted this long. There have been so many different moments that have tested the extremes of his patience. But finally on Friday night, Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau reached his breaking point. In a no-luck season where the Bulls have manufactured a commendable run, Thibodeau has been the constant rock. He probably should not be blamed for cracking after the Miami Heat won Game 3, 104-94, to expectedly take control of the series, 2-1. You understand it, but it's still wrong. In the game's final moments, Thibodeau just stared down with an unflinching and accusatory glare at veteran official Joey Crawford, who stared right back at him. The slow burn continued when Thibodeau, who has an iron reputation for rejecting excuses, blamed the officials for his team's plight in the series. Watching the Bulls fight with their backups so vigilantly, pushing the Heat to the brink, it's easy to forget just how preposterously outmanned they are. The Bulls have played like desperados in these playoffs, which is to say they're a bunch of desperate men. These may well be their last acts. Joakim Noah was out of line when he shoved the Heat's Chris Andersen in the first half after a hard but clean foul on Nate Robinson. Nazr Mohammed was out of line when he came at LeBron James and shoved him a few minutes later. And Thibodeau is out of line for letting his emotions get the better of him as he grunted his disgust at the refs. He knows better than that. "I see how things are going, I watch very closely," Thibodeau said. "We're not going to get calls, that's reality." Essentially, Thibodeau was hinting that the old fix is in. The officials and the league want the Heat to win, so that's what's going to happen. He said it knowing that's a taboo subject and probably will get him a fine. Maybe he said it in the classic manner of trying to set some sort of tone for the next game. But what a disappointing way to turn from the battle-axe coach who just got too caught up to realize he knows better. Unfortunately, that's not reality. Reality is the Heat have a massive margin for error against the Bulls, and it's so clear and so frustrating that it's driving a competition junkie like Thibodeau right out of his personality. James has only played about four good quarters in the three games thus far, and it's been enough to have the Heat in the driver's seat. On Friday, James only played like an MVP for 12 minutes, but they were the last 12 minutes and his 12 fourth-quarter points did the Bulls in. Eventually, James is going to have to rediscover the form he had during the regular season and first round against the Milwaukee Bucks if the Heat are going to repeat as champs. But against the Bulls he is getting by without it so far. Dwyane Wade has been nonexistent. He's shooting reasonably well -- when he shoots, which isn't much. He's in the midst of one of the worst playoff series of his career, averaging just 13 points. Wade has taken three free throws in three games, which is an unheard of ratio and raises questions about his health. It's arguable Bulls backup Marco Belinelli has generally played Wade to a draw so far, which is a big concern for the Heat going forward, but they're still ahead.
Heat leave Tom Thibodeau at a loss
ESPN | May 11