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


Gameday Dish: Heat vs. Blazers

Portlandians will get a dose of South Beach sunshine when the Heat pay a visit to Stumptown this evening.

Though the 23-10 reigning champs boast the best record in the Eastern Conference, they are not shining brightly of late.

The Heatles dropped 4 of their last 7 games. Two of Miami’s three victories over this stretch were overtime grinders, and the other was against the hapless Wizards.

Coach Erik Spoelstra’s guys continue to get manhandled on the glass. They rank 29th in the association in rebounding and are last in the East in second chance points allowed at 15.4 per game.

Also, Miami is just 7-7 away from SoBe this season. It’s easier for a team to straighten out its problems at home with a lot of practice time, but the Heat will have to figure things out on the road during a 5-game West Coast swing.

On the other bench, the 19-15 Blazers have won eight games in a row at home and are 11-3 in their past 14 contests. They have a solid home record of 12-4.

Portland is led by 7th-year, 6’11” PF LaMarcus Aldridge. The team captain is the highest scoring 4-man in the league at 20.6 ppg, and he’s just one of four players in the NBA who average at least 20 points and 8 boards per game.

Also leading this surprising Portland squad is ROY frontrunner PG Damian Lillard. The 6’3” Oakland native was taken 6th overall in last spring’s draft and is putting up 18.2 ppg, 6.5 apg and 3.4 rpg. Importantly, each of the Trail Blazers starters is averaging double figures in points.

Portland last played on Monday at home beating the Orlando Magic 125-119 in OT. Aldridge had 27 points, 10 boards and 5 dimes while center J. J. Hickson went for 20 points and 15 boards. Amazingly, coach Terry Stotts’ team has gone 5-0 this season in games that boiled down to the five-minute bonus period.

On Tuesday, the struggling Heat lost at Indiana 87-77. The 77 points represent a season-low for Miami. The Big 3 scored 66, and the rest of the roster could only muster 11 points. As a team they shot a lousy 41.2 % and were outrebounded 55-36.

Tune in to TNT tonight at 10:30 PM ET to see if Miami can reverse their recent course and earn a road W.

Gameday Dish: Heat vs. Mavericks

Copyright 2012 NBAE - Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images
The 12-13 Dallas Mavericks welcome the 16-6 defending champion Miami Heat to the Lone Star State tonight.

With 11X All-Star Dirk Nowitzki still recovering from an off-season knee surgery, the Mavs have struggled to find a team identity and consistent production.

Coach Rick Carlisle has tinkered with his player rotations as well as his starting five, inserting 11 different guys from his roster in this first third of the schedule.

Dallas is searching for an effective formula on both offense and defense. They currently rank 27th in the NBA in points allowed at 101.5 per game.

On the other bench, the Heat have played well so far, notwithstanding a few baffling losses. They hit the road after playing 10 of their last 11 games at home.

King James leads the team in points, boards and dimes with 25.2, 8.5 and 6.9 respectively. The 3X league MVP has scored at least 20 points in each of Miami’s 22 games, the first player to do so since Karl Malone in the 1989-90 season.
Copyright NBAE 2012 (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe rest of the Heat’s Big 3, D-Wade and Chris Bosh, are still competing at All-Star levels. With the off-season addition of the all-time 3-point champ Ray Allen coming off the bench, many hoops commentators predicted a possible 70-win season for coach Erik Spoelstra’s squad.

Miami is up there at 4th in the league in scoring with 103.1 ppg. But they are getting crushed on the boards, ranking second to last in the league at 38.3 rpg.

The Heat last played on Tuesday night in South Beach where they beat Minnesota 103-92 behind LeBron’s 22 points, 11 assists, 6 boards and 4 blocks. The Mav’s most recent 48 was Tuesday in Big D as they bested the 76ers 107-100.

First-year Maverick guard O.J. Mayo led the team with 26 points, 8 assists and 3 steals. With Dirk out, Mayo has assumed the alpha scorer role, averaging 20.6 ppg, and has started all 25 games.

Tune in to TNT tonight at 9:30 PM ET to watch the last two NBA champions and 2011 Finals combatants do battle deep in the heart of Texas.

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