Fresh off the 103-90 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, the Miami Heat will visit its longtime nemesis Chicago Bulls tonight at 8 on TNT. The Derrick Rose-less Bulls currently occupy the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and have only gone 5-5 in its last 10 games. But the Tom Thibodeau-led Bulls always get up to play the Heat, so this game could get interesting.
Chicago is one of only three teams to defeat Miami at home. The Bulls beat the Heat 96-89 Jan. 3, out-rebounding Miami 48-28 that night. Carlos Boozer had a monster game then, going for 27 points and 12 boards. Joakim Noah also finished with a double-double. Chris Bosh needs to recapture some of his play from the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, when he dominated his matchup with Boozer. The Bulls didn't shoot very well that game, but the team grabbed 19 offensive rebounds for second-chance opportunities. The Heat will have to keep Noah, Boozer and Taj Gibson off the glass tonight, which means that Shane Battier will again have to deal with an unfavorable defensive assignment.
Aside from rebounding, Miami will need to manufacture points against the Thibodeau defense. In Miami's first game against the Bulls, some noted that Chicago did a good job of cutting off the open corner 3s that Shane Battier and Ray Allen nailed during the Heat's decisive fourth-quarter run against the Hawks last night. The Heat players will have to take what the defense gives them. If the Bulls players won't collapse to the paint on dribble-penetration, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade need to exploit the pick-and-roll and score easy buckets. Miami certainly won't be able to win this game if it sleepwalks through the second and third quarters, as it did Wednesday in Atlanta. Although the Bulls don't pose much of a risk to catch Miami, those players will be ready tonight.
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