After a nice little break the Heat get back to business tonight when they head to the Second City to play the Bulls. After struggling through a very inconsistent season, it seems that Miami has righted the ship at just the right time. They finished the month of February with 4 straight losses but since the calander turned to March, the Heat have been playing some great basketball.
Miami has gone 8-3 this month, with the losses coming against Charlotte, San Antonio and Orlando. Those are the last games that the Heat will play against ‘better' opponents, with their remaining games all very winnable. I'm not saying they will easily win them, but there is no reason to think that Miami wont at least duplicate their 8-3 record over their final 11 regular season games.
Lately there has been a lot of attention surrounding Michael Beasley, and deservedly so. I knew that I was getting pretty tired of his passive play, but at the same time that I started bitching and moaning about him, so was his coach. In the Heat's win over New Jersey, Beas got a tongue lashing from Coach Spo after settling for a jumper in the 4th quarter. Said Spo:
"We talked about it in the huddle, and he understood there was a reason why I went to him, and it was not to settle for that type of fadeaway jump shot, but to really grind and try to put some pressure on the defense and get to the rim."
While Beasley may not always agree with his coach, at least he is doing exactly what a 2nd year NBA player should do: shut up and listen. Hopefully the trend continues as the Heat marches towards the playoffs, because another topic that has emerged is whether or not Dwyane Wade wants Super Cool around for the future.
D-Wade has been seen having words with Beasley during recent games; not heated or anything, but enough to the point where Wade glared at Beas after he failed to cover Rashard Lewis in Overtime against the Magic, and now Dwyane has come out and said that he, and his teammates, expect more out of him. Said Wade:
"Mike has to understand he needs to be more consistent in his play. We, in here, expect more out of Mike, and he probably expects more out of himself than he's given. So it doesn't matter what the outside says."
The ‘outside' remark is referring to that tonight's game will be covered by the TNT crew; mainly Charles Barkley. Chuck has been critical of Beasley and the Heat recently, calling Wade's teammates a bunch of ‘Tito Jacksons'. Beasley took the remark personally, but right now he needs to be focusing on his game and not what an insignificant member of the press has to say.
Shifting our focus to Chicago, the Bulls are looking to climb back into the playoff race after dealing with a freefall fueled by injuries and inconsistency. Joakim Noah missed 18 games over the past couple months dealing with a foot issue, and though he's played in the Bulls last two games, they are keeping his minutes limited. Chicago also has Derrick Rose back in the lineup. He missed 4 games with a sprained wrist but has played in their last two contests, scoring 23 and 27 points in those games.
- The Bulls are on a 2-game win streak, coming on the heels of a season long 10-game losing streak.
- This is the 4th and final game between the Heat and Bulls this season, with each team winning their games at home. A win will give Miami any tiebreaker over the Bulls...just in case.
- Dwyane Wade has had a rough time playing in his hometown, averaging just 17.7 points in 12 games at the United Center, his lowest average in any arena. I think that has more to do with Kirk Hinrich covering him then it does the arena he's playing in.
- Chicago will be without forward Luol Deng (calf) and Jerome James (Achilles).
- Miami should have Udonis Haslem back in the lineup after he missed the Heat's last game in New Jersey with a sprained ankle.
- Chicago will be wearing their ‘Los Bulls' jerseys as part of the NBA's Noche Latina initiative.
Tipoff is set for 8pm from the United Center. As I mentioned earlier, the game will be broadcast nationally on TNT.