Heat-Bulls Preview

Miami Heat Status Check:
Record: 37-14
Division: 8-1
Conference: 17-9
Road Record: 14-11
Last 10 Games: 9-1
Streak: Won 8
Last game: 103-90 win over Atlanta
PPG: 103.2 (5th)
Opponents PPG: 96.7 (12th)
Offensive Rating: 12.3 (2nd)
Defensive Rating: 105.2 (12th)
Pace: 90.8 (21st)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .545 (1st)
Turnover Percentage: .131 (6th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .734 (17th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .226 (27th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .222 (8th)
Opp. eFG%: .490 (13th)
Opp. TO%: .145 (7th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .216 (23rd)
Leading scorer: LeBron James (27.2)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Miami Injury Report:
Chris Andersen: left Wednesday’s game (sprained foot)
Mike Miller: missed Wednesday’s game (flu-like symptoms)

After staying quiet through the trade deadline, Chicago moves ahead with the team they put together this summer, and remain eager for Derrick Rose’s return. That won’t be for a while, maybe not even this season, but playing with Rose is nothing new for Chicago. The Bulls looked good in their first game after the All-Star break, taking care of the Hornets, but now they get a real test: the hottest team in the league with the hottest player.

Miami comes into the game having won eight straight as LeBron James has found a new level of dominance. Over his last ten games, of which the Heat are 9-1, LeBron is averaging 30.0 points, on 64.5 percent shooting from the field and 51.4 percent from deep. He’s also adding 7.3 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.9 steals over that stretch.

On their eight game win streak, Miami is averaging 107.6 points per contest. The last time the Bulls scored 107 points in a game was a mid-January overtime win over the Raptors. Getting into a shoot-out with the Heat wouldn’t work for almost any team, but the Bulls know they need to win these games on the defensive end.

The Bulls get up for games against the Heat. They showed it last year in games that Rose missed with minor injuries and showed it once again when they met Miami in January. The Bulls have taken six of the last eight regular season games against Miami, holding the Heat to 91.0 points per contest.

Chicago gave up just 89 points to Miami in their first meeting this season, shutting down everybody except James (30 points) and Dwyane Wade (22 points). LeBron got to the line 16 times in that contest, hitting 13 of those freebies.

The clear match-up to watch is whoever is guarding LeBron at the moment. It will be Luol Deng for most of the game, and Jimmy Butler may get some time on him as well.

There is some good news for the Bulls. First of all, they get Miami on the road, where the Heat are just 14-11 on the year (compared to 23-3 at home). The second is that Miami is playing on the second night of a back-to-back. It’s not a big advantage, as Miami is 6-1 playing on no rest, but a somewhat tired Heat team is better than a rested one.

LeBron played 40 minutes last night in the win over Atlanta, scoring 24 points to go with eleven assists and four steals. That was his lowest output of the month and just the second time he has scored fewer than 30 points in February. Wade added 20 points in 35 minutes of action and Shane Battier and Ray Allen combined for 32 off the bench. Chris Bosh struggled, going just 2-10 from the floor in his first game since starting the All-Star game.

Kirk Hinrich is once again a game-time decision because of his elbow injury. Hinrich went 2-7 from the field for five points, but dished ten assists as the offense looked much better with him leading it. Nate Robinson came off the bench to score 13 points in the first match-up with Miami. Hinrich went 3-8 for ten points in that game.

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