Bulls at Heat
The matchup between the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat will definitely be without one of its marquee names, as Derrick Rose remains sidelined following knee surgery. Heat star and reigning MVP LeBron James is dealing with a bruised right knee and is listed as day-to-day. Whether or not James plays, the Heat will be trying to put together a better effort on the defensive end than they have over the last four games.
Miami allowed 106.5 points in back-to-back losses at Detroit and Milwaukee last weekend and needed overtime to hold off both Orlando and Dallas earlier this week. None of those four teams is as strong as Chicago, which has the team defensive philosophy capable of limiting the Heat’s scoring. Even without Rose at the top forcing turnovers, the Bulls still rank third in the NBA in scoring defense and have played Miami tough over the last few seasons.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, WCIU (Chicago), SUN (Miami), ESPN
ABOUT THE BULLS (17-13): Chicago has not scored 100 points in any of its last six games but has gotten by on its defense most of the time. After suffering an embarrassing 91-81 home loss to the Charlotte Bobcats - ending Charlotte’s 18-game losing streak - the Bulls bounced back with a 96-94 win at Orlando on Wednesday. Joakim Noah was sidelined with an illness but Carlos Boozer helped pick up the slack with 31 points and 11 rebounds and Taj Gibson added 21 and 11 in the spot start. Noah hopes to be back when Chicago tries to win in Miami for the first time since March 6, 2011. The Bulls took both meetings in Chicago last season but dropped their two chances in Miami.
ABOUT THE HEAT (22-8): James missed practice on Thursday while receiving treatment for his knee. The superstar hopes to play on Friday and go for his 31st straight game with at least 20 points to start the season. While James has been a model of consistency, the rest of the Miami players have battled through some struggles - especially on the defensive end. Among the Heat’s last four opponents, only the Milwaukee Bucks are a playoff-caliber team at the moment, but all four were able to score against a team that has gone from one of the top defensive units in the league during last season’s championship run to the bottom half of the league in scoring defense in 2012-13. James came up an assist shy of a triple-double in leading the Heat to a 119-109 overtime win over Dallas on Wednesday.
1. James’ streak is the longest in the NBA since George Gervin scored 20 or more in 45 straight games to open the 1981-82 season.
2. The Bulls beat the Heat 106-102 in Chicago without Rose on March 14 last season.
3. Chicago F Luol Deng has reached 20 points in back-to-back games after failing to reach the mark in three straight.