Miami Heat Status Check:
Home Record: 15-2
Last 10 Games: 8-2
Streak: Won 2
Last game: 119-109 OT win over Mavericks
PPG: 103.6 (4th)
Opponents PPG: 98.6 (19th)
Offensive Rating: 111.3 (3rd)
Defensive Rating: 106.0 (18th)
Pace: 92.1 (13th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .547 (1st)
Turnover Percentage: .136 (8th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .733 (16th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .213 (29th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .223 (7th)
Opp. eFG%: .492 (17th)
Opp. TO%: .139 (10th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .206 (15th)
Leading scorer: LeBron James (26.5)
Stats from Basketball-Reference
Heat Injury Report:
LeBron James: probable (knee)
Neither the Heat nor the Bulls have been playing their best basketball lately. The Bulls because they are missing Derrick Rose and apparently decided to take off the last week and a half of 2012 and the Heat because they know they can turn it on whenever they feel like.
That’s why the Bulls have a chance to beat Miami. Chicago beat the Heat last year behind 24 points from John Lucas III in one match-up. So whatever happens tonight, crazier things happened last season.
If the Bulls want to win they’re going to have to try and slow down the best basketball player in the world, who is also the most consistent scorer right now. LeBron James has scored 20 or more points in all 30 of his games this season. He is the first player to do that in more than 40 years (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in 1970-71 when he was still Lew Alcindor). Overall, he’s on a streak of 51 straight games hitting the 20 point mark that includes last season’s championship run in the playoffs.
But Miami isn’t at their peak right now. In their last four games, they are 2-2, with losses to Detroit and Milwaukee and overtime wins against Orlando and Dallas. The Heat are beatable when they are cruising through the regular season waiting to turn it on.
James was just one assist shy of a triple-double in Miami’s overtime win over the Mavericks. He finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Dwyane Wade recorded 27 points and ten rebounds, while Bosh scored 17.
The Heat only turned the ball over ten times—James and Udonis Haslem combined for seven turnovers between them—and Dallas scored just 13 points off of them. Miami got 23 points off 14 Maverick turnovers.
This will be the first of four times this year the Bulls and Heat meet. Chicago went 2-2 against Miami last season. They were without Rose for two games, one being a four-point win, the other an eleven-point loss. They won another game which Rose was there physically, but not statistically. The point guard went a dismal 1-13 from the floor and recorded a negative-27 plus/minus. The bench stepped up massively in that game, helping Chicago pull out an overtime win. Rose’s best performance, a 34 point, six assist, six rebound game, ended as a four-point Chicago loss.
What that means is that the Bulls can beat the Heat without Rose. They didn’t depend on Rose for wins, getting a win without him and one when he was awful. And they lost in his best game. That should give them some confidence going into tonight.
That was last year though, and the Bulls had a much different bench at that point, that was consistently good and a lot better than Miami’s reserves, which were an after though. Now the Heat have Ray Allen coming off their bench. The former Celtic is averaging 11.6 points per game and hitting 45.6 percent of his threes. He’s daring people to double one of the Big Three.
The Bulls also need to rebound if they want to win this game, something they haven’t been doing well for a few games. But Miami is 29th in offensive rebounding percentage and middle of the pack (16th) in defensive rebounding percentage. If the Bulls can get second chance points and defend their glass, they will have a chance to knock off the Heat.
A big boost to their rebounding will be if Joakim Noah can play. Jo had no energy in the Bulls loss to the Bobcats, finishing with just two points and four rebounds, before sitting out the first game of 2013 with the flu. Jo has said he will play tonight. A game against the Heat isn’t the type of game Noah would want to miss. The Bulls could use Noah’s defense as well, as the Heat are the best in the league when it comes to effective field goal percentage (.547) and are third in offensive rating (111.3)
But if he can’t go, Taj Gibson filled in his role well, recording a season-high 21 points to go with eleven rebounds in the two-point win over the Magic. Carlos Boozer also stepped up, scoring 31 points, a season-high as well, on 13-22 shooting and adding eleven boards. Luol Deng pitched in 23, but that’s where the good news ends. The rest of the team scored just 21 points and shot 7-27 or 25.9 percent.
Kirk Hinrich, Rip Hamilton and Marco Belinelli are all going to have to pitch in double digit points if the Bulls are going to have a solid chance to win this game. Oh yeah, and they’ll need to try and slow down LeBron James. That’s the tough one.