Heat back on the road for showdown with Chicago

Dwyane Wade always feels the love when returning to his hometown, Chicago.

The Miami Heat have been a team that hangs their hat on their defense this season. Even with the amazing offensive talent that Miami can put on the floor at any given moment, the defensive efforts that we've seen throughout the year showed how this Heat team could beat you on both ends of the court without a problem. For most of the season, that has been the case.

Lately, however, things haven't come as easily for the Heat. As strong as they have looked at times this season, they are currently going through a stretch where you don't know if the ‘good' Heat or the ‘not so good' Heat is going to show up that night. Tonight, if Miami doesn't come out with their best effort its likely that they'll suffer a second straight loss to a top tier Eastern Conference opponent.

After winning just three games during a five-game homestand, the Heat will play their first road game since that embarrassing April 1st loss to the Celtics up in Boston. Unfortunately for Miami this game isn't going to be any easier then that one, as the Heat are in Chicago to face the only team in the Eastern Conference with a better record then their own.

The Bulls have been hanging on to the top spot in the East for the majority of the season, and if the Heat are going to make a final run at passing Chicago for 1st place it has to start with a win tonight. The Bulls hold a 3-game lead over Miami in the standings, but the Heat have 10 games left on their schedule while Chicago only has 8.

So a win tonight, and wins in those two games at hand, and suddenly the Bulls and Heat are tied on top of the Eastern Conference. Not to worry, I doubt they remain tied, as the two teams still have another head-to-head matchup looming on the schedule. Next Thursday in Miami the Heat and Bulls will play for the 4th and final time during the (regular) season.

GAME NOTES

  • The Heat are 16-12 on the road. Chicago is 23-6 at home.
  • In their last 10 games, Miami's defense has been struggling mightily. They are giving up an average of 95.8 points on 47.3% shooting.
  • The Heat are just 5-5 in those 10 games.
  • Miami has also lost 3 of their last 4 games away from home.
  • LeBron James has led the Heat in scoring in each of their last six games.
  • That is the longest such streak by any Heat player this season.
  • Chicago is the only team in the NBA to have an undefeated record (19-0) when scoring at least 100 points.
  • For the Heat, Mike Miller (ankle) is probable.
  • On Chicago's side of the fence, guard Derrick Rose (ankle) will likely be a game-time decision.

Tipoff from the AAA is set for 8pm. The game will be broadcast locally on Sun Sports and nationally on TNT.

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