The Miami Heat come to Chicago tonight riding the NBA’s longest current win streak of 8 games. At 37-14 they have the best record in the Eastern Conference by 5 games and the second best overall record in the league.
LeBron James, now in his tenth pro season, has been performing at a level not seen since Michael Jordan. His season averages of 27.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 7 apg and 1.7 spg accompanied by a staggering 57% FG rate make him far and away the leader to win the MVP award for the fourth time.
In Miami’s first game after the All-Star break, 28-year-old James had 24 points, 11 dimes, 6 boards and 4 steals in a come-from-behind victory in Atlanta last night.
The Heat outscored the Hawks 40-17 in the 4th quarter in the 103-90 victory. Veterans Shane Battier and Ray Allen combined for 32 points off the bench as Chris Bosh struggled, scoring only 6 points on 2-10 shooting.
The tenacious Bulls team last played on Tuesday night in The Big Easy where they bested the soon-to-be Pelicans 96-87 to improve their record to 31-22, currently good for the 5th spot in the East.
First-time All-Star Joakim Noah put up 15 points, 17 boards, 5 dimes and 3 blocks in the 48. Prior to the break coach Tom Thibodeau’s squad dropped 5 of 7 games with 6 of those contests on the road.
Chicago and Miami matched up for the first time on January 4th in South Beach. The Bulls, behind Carlos Boozer’s 27 points and 12 rebounds, topped the Heat 96-89 in a rare Miami home L. In fact, Miami has lost 6 of their last 8 regular season games against the Bulls including 9 of their last 11 in Chi-Town.
However, they did win 2 games at the United Center in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat, for all their greatness, have a fairly pedestrian road record of 14-11, while Chicago’s home mark of 16-10 isn’t all that intimidating.
Chicago has pulled together this season without their leader Derrick Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP. After tearing his ACL in Game 1 of the first round of the 2012 playoffs, the Chicago-native has missed all 53 of the Bulls games thus far. Recently the 2008 1st overall pick stated that he may not return to game action until next season. However he has been reported to be participating in live 5-5 drills in practice.
Tune in to TNT tonight at 8:00 PM ET to see if Miami can continue their hot streak against a tough Bulls team that gives up only 91.5 ppg and hits the boards hard.