MIAMI -- LeBron James said it wouldn't be a surprise if he guarded Nate Robinson in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday after Robinson scored a game-high 27 points in the Bulls' Game 1 win.
"It wouldn't be a surprise if I matched up with him," James said Tuesday. "But I'll take the challenge on [defense]."
Part of the challenge for the 6-foot-8, 250-pound James will be keeping up with the 5-9, 180-pound Robinson, but it wouldn't be the first time James has checked a Bulls point guard. After the Bulls won Game 1 of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, James guarded Derrick Rose and the Heat won four straight.
"Nate is a scorer, man," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "We got to do a better job of contesting his shots, but Nate's going to score the basketball because he's going to shoot. We can't worry about that. I think there's other things that we have to worry about more than Nate. We've seen it -- when Nate gets on a roll, there's not many guys in the league that can get hotter than Nate that make shots.
"I think we got to do a better job of contesting his shots. When he gets in the paint, do a better job of making sure that we jump and contest his shots, but besides that he's going to make some tough shots."
Aside from Robinson's performance, the Bulls player whom the Heat stars found themselves talking about most on Tuesday was Jimmy Butler. The Marquette alum has caught the Heat's attention after dropping in 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds Monday. He also spent most of the night chasing around James and played all 48 minutes for the third game in a row.
"I think it's very impressive for him to be able to do it," James said of all Butler's minutes.
"He's in shape," said Wade, who also attended Marquette. "The guy is in shape, and to be able to play that many minutes in a row, obviously a lot of guys can't do that. And still to be aggressive on the offensive end and defensively to be able to guard different guys, he's special in that sense. That's why Marquette chose him."
James complimented the Bulls' defensive system while giving Butler some praise.
"I think Jimmy's a good solid defender," James said. "But I think it's the system that's built around him and the guys around him that makes you a really good defender. No matter how good you are individually, if you don't have guys behind you that's talking and helping you, then it doesn't matter. And that goes into my series with Boston and Tony Allen. He had Kevin Garnett and those guys behind him that's giving a lot of communication. The same with Tayshaun Prince in Detroit; he had Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace and now with Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler, you have Joakim Noah and those guys behind him.
"So you can be the greatest individual defender, but if you don't have a line behind you and a system behind you, then you can get exploited. I think he's good on the ball, he pays attention to detail, and it helps that he has a really good defensive system behind him."
Despite the results in Game 1, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau thinks the Bulls have to get better.
"I thought they missed some shots early that they normally make, so we have to be ready right from the start and you have to play 48 minutes against them," he said. "We have to be aggressive at both ends of the floor. I thought offensively in the second half we were pretty good, but we have to do that from the start of the game."