Continued from page 1

“That’s a testament to the type of team we have,” Pacer David West said. “We’re deep, man. We’ve got guys, that when their number’s called, they’re prepared.”

The Bulls might have been able to say that at one point. But with Rose out and Joakim Noah questionable after an ankle injury, their win Tuesday night against the 76ers resembled a holding action more than a comeback. They go to Philadelphia still trailing 3-2 and struggling to score, coach Tom Thibodeau’s brave words notwithstanding.

“Injuries are part of the game, so whether it’s a lockout season or not, you’ve still got to deal with them,” he said.

As if the Heat weren’t already favored, their relative good fortune in the injury department compared to their rivals has only widened the gap. The depleted Knicks will bow out soon enough, the Bulls likely will follow soon after, and the aging Celtics, who have struggled to keep the trio of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett up and running all season, lost an opportunity for some much-needed rest by failing to close out the Hawks when they had the chance Tuesday night.

But the Heat don’t dare celebrate their good fortune yet.

“Hopefully no one else goes down with these type of injuries,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said. “It’s not anything that we want to see … You don’t know if it was because of the condensed season. You don’t know what the case may be.”


Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at) and follow him at