Miami Heat Status Check:
Home Record: 22-7
Last 10 Games: 5-5
Streak: Lost 3
Last game: 125-95 loss to the Spurs (worst loss of the season)
PPG: 101.8 (9th)
Opponents PPG: 95.0 (6th)
Offensive Rating: 110.7 (5th)
Defensive Rating: 103.2 (5th)
Pace: 91.4 (18th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .518 (7th)
Turnover Percentage: .132 (15th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .750 (7th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .245 (23rd)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .278 (3rd)
Opp. eFG%: .471 (3rd)
Opp. TO%: .126 (9th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .250 (9th)
Leading scorer: LeBron James (26.2)
Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.
Miami Injury Report:
Udonis Haslem: left foot surgery (out indefinitely)
Since Chicago and Miami last played each other on February 24 (Chicago won 93-89), the teams have gone in opposite directions. The Heat is 1-3 after that game, beating only the Wizards in that stretch. They also blew a 24-point lead against Orlando and had their worst loss of the season to the Spurs on Friday.
The Heat are hearing a lot of doubters now, especially when it comes to their late game shooting. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Heat are an NBA worst 1-14 on potential tying or go-ahead shots in the last 10 seconds of fourth quarter and overtime this year. This tempted me to put “Miami’s late game scoring ability” in the injury report.
“We’re still a confident bunch,” said LeBron James. “We know it’s a tough stretch for us right now. We lost three games in a row, but I feel like all it takes is one win.”
In the last Heat-Bulls matchup, Luol Deng was clutch, hitting a 3 with under 20 seconds left to help get the win. And Chicago has played well since that victory.
The Bulls are 3-1 after beating Miami late in February. The lone loss an extremely disappointing game in which they blew a 19-point lead. They rebounded nicely against the Magic though. Omer Asik rebounded especially nicely in that game…13 rebounds, 5 offensive, and solid defense on Dwight Howard (Howard went 8-8 from the field, I know, but he only went 4-12 from the line, so that is a form of defense—right?).
“We got to make a stand on Sunday against a team that is gaining confidence,” Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. The Heat are just 1-8 against the top 5 teams in the NBA. That includes 0-2 against Chicago (which means the Bulls have secured the tie-breaker). With all this said, Miami is still in third place in the East, and lead their division by 3.5 games.
Ultimately it is a huge game for both teams. Miami needs to prove they can beat the top teams in the league, and stop their three game skid. While Chicago needs to prove they can beat the best on the road.
Matchup to watch:
Rose’s turnovers vs. Heat’s fast-break offense.
This season, Rose has averaged 3 turnovers per game against Miami. But in his last 5 games, he is averaging 4.4 per contest. The Heat are 10th in the league in fast break scoring, with 14.8 per game. But with the speed of James and Wade they can turn almost anything into a fast break situation, and no one wants to be under the basket when one of them is coming in for a dunk. And that speed also closes passing lanes and creates more turnovers.
Rebound battle: According to Stats LLC, Chicago has outrebounded Miami 95-69 in the first two games of the series. They pulled this off with Joakim Noah missing one of the games of the series. However, in fairness, Miami doesn’t have a real starting center on their roster. Chicago is coming off a game in which they out-rebounded Dwight Howard and the Magic 50-30, including 17 offensive rebounds. Second-chance points could be important as well.
Shooting percentage to watch: Last time against the Bulls, Chris Bosh shot an abysmal 1-18 from the field (5%). Obviously Chicago can’t expect that to happen again, but the Bulls can definitely frustrate Bosh on both ends if they play physically with him. And maybe some fans can remind him of how he played on February 24.
TrueHoop Network Heat Index by Kevin Arnovitz and Tom Haberstroh:
“We can argue about Rose’s MVP résumé, but he’s undoubtedly the saving grace of the Bulls’ 16th-ranked offense. He’s matured into one of the most lethal penetrators in the game, and learning to draw contact and collect free points at the line. Rose is also working off the ball a bit more, as well, finding opportunities running off screens. On Friday night, the Magic did a fairly nice job holding Rose in check, though he still racked up 24 points (such are the standards now for holding Rose in check). When Chicago initiated a high ball screen for Rose, the man defending the screener (often Dwight Howard or Brandon Bass) would drop into the paint to slow Rose’s path to the basket. Rose still managed to find his way to the rim on several occasions, but he had to work much harder for those points. Considering the Heat’s primary ball defenders on Rose, the big man — Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony, Erick Dampier — will have to serve as traffic cones when the Bulls run 1-4 and 1-5 pick-and-rolls for Rose. Failing that, James and Wade can expect a busy day helping off the Bulls’ wings. And as fast as they are, they’re not going to be terribly successful beating Rose to the rim from the corner.”
About the Author:
Braedan Ritter was born and raised in Pennsylvania but was swayed by gifts from his aunt to follow the Chicago sports teams. It didn’t hurt that the Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan playing for them, and the Sixers had…Derrick Coleman. Braedan has stuck with Chicago through thick and thin, and really thin (see: Chicago Cubs). And speaking of Coleman, Braedan is currently a student at Syracuse University.