The Bulls and Miami Heat will square off in American Airlines Arena at noon central time on ABC for the third time this season.
The first two games took place in Chicago.
In Part I, the Heat were without LeBron James and the Bulls narrowly escaped in a shoot-out down-the-stretch between the Chicago-native guards, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose. Kyle Korver ultimately hit the game-winning three-pointer in the closing seconds to win the game for the Bulls, 99-96.
In Part II, the Bulls trailed early on as fans in the United Center bared witness to three Bulls’ turnovers resulting in three LeBron James’ highlight dunks. But it was Luol Deng who played hero in this game. Deng helped the Bulls survive a poor-shooting night from their leader, Derrick Rose, by scoring 20 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out five assists—on 7-of-12 field goal shooting. The defense of Deng and Omer Asik was instrumental in holding Miami to only 40% shooting for the game. The Chicago battered Miami on the glass, 53-39. It was Deng who hit the go-ahead three-pointer, and contested James’ wild three-point attempt to seal the 93-89 victory for the Bulls over the Heat.
As the Bulls and the Heat look to square off for the third and final time in this regular season, these two teams seem to be going in different directions.
Miami is struggling and are in desperate need of a win versus a quality opponent. They are 12-16 against teams with winning records. In the past 10 days alone, the Heat have lost in Chicago, at home to New York and Orlando, and were blown out by 30 points in San Antonio.
Chicago has won eight of their last 10 games, and have just taken sole possession of the second seed in the Eastern Conference after their recent win in Orlando.
Chris Bosh will surely look to avenge his historically bad shooting night (1-of-18 on field goals) that was on display in his last game against the Bulls. Joakim Noah seemed a little too active on defense for Bosh, but he will surely have some extra incentive to get to the rim for some easy baskets now that this meeting is at home.
LeBron James will surely again come out with some fire. He and the Bulls’ Derrick Rose have been deemed the two main front-runners for the 2010-11 Most Valuable Player Award by the general national sports media.
The consensus prior to the season was that Rose did not have much of a chance to be a candidate for this award. There are not a lot of writers out there who predicted that the third-year guard would be the front-runner for the MVP with only 22 games remaining in the regular season. Nor did many think that he would have the Chicago Bulls against the much-hyped Wade-James-Bosh Heat trio of “South Beach.”
…seems as though the momentum has swung just a little bit.
If Chicago manages to sweep the season series with Miami this afternoon, LeBron just might have a second thought about his decision to pass up the Bulls this past summer. And who could blame him?