The Miami Heat open their title defense at 8PM, tonight at American Airlines Arena in Miami. Their guests are the Chicago Bulls, led by Derrick Rose, taking the court for the first time in a regular season game since the lockout shortened 2011-12 season. The two will meet again in Miami on February 23rd, with two games in Chicago on December 5th and on March 9th. The Heat will embark on a two game road trip after tonight's match, first against the Philadelphia 76ers tomorrow night, then in Brooklyn to face the Nets on Thursday. The Bulls are looking for a little redemption this season, with a fresh and healthy Derrick Rose. They'll make their home opener against the New York Knicks on Halloween.
These teams last met on May 15th in game five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Here's NBA.COM's official recap.
Knowing his team needed him at his best, Dwyane Wade retreated to the Miami Heat locker room after the third quarter for some quick treatment on his aching right knee.
When he came back, he was good as new.
And now he can rest until the Eastern Conference finals.
LeBron James scored 23 points, Wade added 18 and had a brilliant 45-second sequence that proved crucial, and the Heat clawed back from an 11-point second-half deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls 94-91 on Wednesday night and close out their second-round series in five games. * Full Recap * Box Score
Wade spoke afterward about his game saving second half performance:
"We gave it everything we had," James said. "I have no energy left."
For the Bulls point of view, check out Blog a Bull.
Miami's last game that mattered was a game seven, NBA Championship series win over the San Antonio Spurs:
Victory in Game 7 brought more than another crown for LeBron James and the Miami Heat. It validated the team and its leader, forever cementing their place among the NBA's greats.
For the vanquished San Antonio Spurs, it simply compounded the misery of a championship that got away.
James led the Heat to their second straight title, scoring 37 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a 95-88 victory Thursday night in a tense game that was tight until Miami pulled away in the final minute.
Capping their best season in franchise history - and perhaps the three-superstar system they used to build it - the Heat ran off with the second straight thriller in the NBA's first championship series to go the distance since 2010.
Two nights after his Game 6 save when the Heat were almost eliminated, James continued his unparalleled run through the basketball world, with two titles and an Olympic gold medal in the last 12 months. * Full Recap * Box Score
LeBron James spoke about his feelings after the game:
"I work on my game a lot throughout the offseason," said James, who was MVP for the second straight finals. "I put a lot of work into it and to be able to come out here and (have) the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate. The ultimate. I'm at a loss for words."
For more on the Spurs, check out Pounding the Rock.
Game Time: 8:00 PM ET
All-Time Series: 51-41, Bulls
Season Series: First of four meetings
Miami Heat: 0-0, first in the Southeast Division, first in the Eastern Conference, first in the NBA. Current odds of making the postseason: 53.3%
Chicago Bulls: 0-0, first in the Central Division, first in the Eastern Conference, first in the NBA. Current odds of making the postseason: 53.3%
Games: Norris Cole will play in his 146th game, tying Vladimir Stepania and Caron Butler in 47th all-time. If James Jones plays, he'll move into sole possession of 18th on the all-time list, breaking a tie with Anthony Carter with his 247th. Mario Chalmers will tie Tim Hardaway in 11th, with his 367th contest.
Boards: Joel Anthony needs 11 rebounds to pass Tim Hardaway into 15th place, with 1181.
Helpers: With six more assists, Chris Bosh will pass Chris Quinn and Keith Askins into 30th, with 376.
Theft: Cole has 101 steals, and will tie Eric Murdock in 39th with two more. Shane Battier has 105, and Joel Anthony has 108. Either will tie Billy Owens in 36th if they get to 110.
Rejections: With three blocks, Chris Andersen will move into the Heat's all-time top 50, tying Tim Hardaway, Antoine walker, and Erick Dampier with 47. Mario Chalmers will tie Voshon Lenard in 46th with one more, making 51. James Jones' next one will make 53, moving him into 42nd past Brian Shaw, Bily Owens, and LaPhonso Ellis. LeBron James needs three to tie Keith Askins in 14th, with 170.
Today in HEAT history
Miami is 1-2 on October 29th's throughout their history.
2008 - Chicago Bulls 120, Miami Heat 115
Danny Vranes, who played 510 games for the Seattle SuperSonics and the Philadelphia 76ers, turns 55 today.
PG - Mario Chalmers
PF - Udonis Haslem
C - Chris Bosh
SF - LeBron James
SG - Dwyane Wade
No significant injuries to report for either team
LBJ 26.8 points, DWade 21.2 points
LBJ 8.0 rebounds, Bosh 6.8 rebounds
LBJ 7.3 assists, DWade 5.1 assists
DWade 1.9 steals, LBJ 1.7 steals
Bosh 1.4 blocks, Chris Andersen 1.0 blocks
Luol Deng 16.5 points, Carlos Boozer 16.2 points
Joakim Noah 11.1 rebounds, Carlos Boozer 9.8 rebounds
Kirk Hinrich 5.2 assists, Nate Robinson 4.4 assists
Joakim Noah 1.2 steals, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng 1.1 steals
Joakim Noah 2.1 blocks, Taj Gibson 1.4 blocks
Fall Out Boy penned this gem: Chicago is SO Two Years Ago. I haven't heard it, but I appreciate the sentiment.
Chicago Is So Two Years Ago (via FreedomForMusic)
Thanks for reading. The GameThread goes live at 7:30 PM, half an hour before tipoff. For a Bull-Centric take on the game, check out Blog a Bull.