Heat-Bulls Preview

Miami Heat Status Check:
Record: 14-5
Division: 3-1
Conference: 10-2
Home Record: 8-2
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Streak: Won 3
Last game: 99-89 win over the Knicks
PPG: 104.2 (2nd)
Opponents PPG: 96.4 (23rd)
Offensive Rating: 108.1 (3rd)
Defensive Rating: 100.0 (9th)
Pace: 93.8 (3rd)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .522 (2nd)
Turnover Percentage: .151 (24th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .741 (14th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .252 (19th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .262 (3rd)
Opp. eFG%: .481 (18th)
Opp. TO%:  .170 (2nd)
Opp. FT/FGA: .224 (18th)
Leading scorer: LeBron James (29.2)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Miami Injury Report:

And now for the game we’ve all been waiting for; Chicago against Miami. The top two teams in the Eastern Conference will face each other for the first time since last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, and will open their four game regular season series.

Today is the first of nine straight games on the road for the Bulls, but no one is talking about anything past today. This will also be the first game of a back-to-back for Chicago. They take on Washington tomorrow, going from facing one of the top teams to one of the worst.

It isn’t the ideal match-up, especially for Bulls fans. Both Rip Hamilton and Luol Deng will be game time decisions. It isn’t likely that Luol will play, while Rip has a better chance. On the other side of the court, the Heat are at full strength for the first time in a while. Dwyane Wade returned from injury Friday to play against the Knicks. Wade scored 28 points and added five steals and four assists in his comeback game.

As everyone knows, Chicago fell to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals last season 4-1. The Bulls weren’t at their best, and Miami was clearly the better team. But that was supposed to change, or at least shift more in the Bulls favor, with the addition of a shooting guard that was alive and can help on the offensive end. But the Bulls may be without their new shooting guard.

Even though Chicago is used to playing short-handed this season, this game is going to be tougher. Kyle Korver started against the Bucks, but that won’t fly against the Heat. As funny as it would be watching Korver try to guard LeBron or Wade (and trust me it would be hilarious), he would be way too much of a defensive liability. Deng is one of the better defenders against LeBron and makes him work for everything. Deng will be sorely missed on both ends, especially in this game. Ronnie Brewer can step in, but he can’t guard both Wade and LeBron at the same time. Will Thibodeau go with the rookie Jimmy Butler possibly?

Last season, the Bulls did win all three regular season games, but by a combined eight points. Rose averaged 29 points, 6.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. Deng averaged 16.7 points, six rebounds and four assists. The Bulls took the regular season games, but Miami won when it really mattered.

The Heat beat the Bulls 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the playoffs against Miami, Rose averaged 23.4 points, 6.6 assists, and four rebounds. Rose shot just 35 percent from the field though. At this point in the season he was trying to carry the Bulls when everyone was keying on him. LeBron averaged 25.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists in the series, along with playing great defense against Rose late in games.

Just like the Bulls, Miami is very good at home, but for Miami it’s their offense that excels. The Heat are 8-2 at home, outscoring opponents 105.8 to 92.2. Miami is shooting 50.3 percent in their ten games at home this year. The Bulls are holding opponents to 92.4 points on 44.8 percent shooting so far on the road.

Chicago is holding opponents to 45.8 effective field goal percentage (fifth in the league), while Miami is shooting 52.2 eFG (second in the league).

“It’ll be a little different, but the principles are the same,” Wade said. “They live on their defense and obviously this year we’ve been scoring, but our defense is what wins games and hopefully one day wins championships for us.”

One of them has to give, so which will it be? Will Miami’s offense continue to excel, or will it be the Bulls stifling defense and rebounding that carries them to the win?

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