Gameday Dish: Heat vs. Bulls

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.

Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles LakersFirst-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.

Around the League

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Around the League

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Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Jeff Green

Los Angeles Lakers v Boston CelticsThe 28-24 Boston Celtics have won eight of their last nine games. This record is especially impressive considering the Cs pulled it off without their All-Star PG Rajon Rondo. Rondo tore his ACL on January 25th in a loss at Atlanta, which was Boston’s sixth straight defeat.

Rookie forward Jared Sullinger and combo guard Leandro Barbosa also suffered season-ending injuries, so the rest of coach Doc Rivers’ roster must find ways to score more and board more in order for the team to make a run at a mid-seed playoff spot.

One Celtic baller who’s responded to the injury crisis in Beantown is 6’9”, 6th-year combo forward Jeff Green. The Georgetown product and 2007 Big East POY was the 5th overall pick of the ’97 draft. Boston acquired Green in a trade with Oklahoma City for the popular center Kendrick Perkins in February of 2011.

In reality this is only Green’s fifth pro season since he missed all of last year due to a scary aortic aneurysm. Green has participated in all 52 of the Celts’ games thus far this season and appears more comfortable in Boston now than ever before.

Green has upped his game in February, and he’s earned the confidence of Rivers. In the C’s seven games this month, Green has averaged 30.1 mpg, 14.4 ppg, 4 rpg and 1.7 bpg while shooting 51% from the field, 46% from the arc and 85% from the line. These stats are an improvement over his season averages of 24.6 mpg, 10.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 0.7 bpg.

Green’s ultra-athletic moves have shown up with more frequency as his minutes have increased. And he is a popular teammate with a high IQ. Hoya coach John Thompson III stated in a Sports Illustrated interview, “You’ll stop and think when I say this, but it’s true: Jeff Green is the smartest player I’ve ever coached.”

Now is the time for fantasy GMs to grab Jeff Green before his price tag goes up along with his production.

NBA All-Star 2013

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