The Miami Heat (7-16) dressed the NBA minimum eight players last night in their blowout loss to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and must now face another former member of the Big 3 when they visit Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls (12-10) tonight.
Miami hung around in the first half last night but had no realistic chance of keeping up with the reigning NBA champs over the course of 48 minutes. Tonight will be just as much of a challenge for the Heat’s healthy players on the second night of a back-to-back set, though Josh Richardson (ankle) may be healthy enough to give it a go. This will be the final night of the Heat’s only stretch of four games in five days this season.
Along with Richardson, guard Rodney McGruder (ankle) is also listed as questionable for tonight’s game. Luke Babbitt (hip), Justise Winslow (wrist), James Johnson (rotator cuff), and Dion Waiters (groin) remain unavailable as well as Chris Bosh (blood clots).
The Bulls won the last matchup between these two teams 98-95 on Nov. 10 at AmericanAirlines Arena in an emotional night for Wade, who was honored by the Heat for his illustrious career here. Chicago is coming off Thursday’s impressive 95-91 win against the San Antonio Spurs but it ended a three-game losing streak and they have yet to win consecutive games since Nov. 18.
As Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stressed to reporters before last night’s game vs the Cavs, the team doesn’t stand much chance of winning if Hassan Whiteside isn’t dominating. His subsequent third quarter benching may or may not have had to do with a minor knee injury or with limiting his minutes during his back-to-back set, neither Spoelstra or Whiteside were clear about that afterwards, but he was certainly not at his best in Cleveland and must quickly rebound tonight in order for Miami to have any chance of ending their four-game winning streak and begin to climb out of last place in the Southeast Division. More healthy bodies would certainly help the cause.
numberFire’s metrics currently give Miami a 30.2% chance to win. Here is a full breakdown of projections for the game as it compares to similar games and teams in the past.
Time: 8:00 PM EST @ United Center, Chicago IL
TV: Fox Sports FL, NBALP / Radio: 790 the Ticket, 106.3-FM, 710-AM (Spanish).
Miami Heat likely starters: Goran Dragic, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, Josh McRoberts, and Hassan Whiteside.
Out: Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, James Johnson, and Luke Babbitt.
Chicago Bulls likely starters: Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez.
For Chicago, Michael Carter-Williams (knee, wrist) is listed as being out.