CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 27: Members of the Chicago Bulls including (top, L-R) Kyle Korver #26, Derrick Rose #1, Joakim Noah #13, C.J. Watson #7, John Lucas III #15, Brian Scalabrine #24, Taj Gibson #22, Jimmy Butler #21, Carlos Boozer #5, Omer Asik #3 Ronnie Brewer #11 and Richard Hamilton #32 huddle after player introductions before a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center on January 27, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
A slightly depleted Chicago Bulls (17-4) team ships down South to face a Miami Heat (14-5) squad that's at full-strength after the return of Dwyane Wade.
After sweeping the season series vs. the Miami Heat in 2010-2011 but falling to them in five games in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Chicago Bulls know that the regular season match ups between the two East titans don't mean much. But, that's not to say that a road victory over the Heat on Sunday afternoon wouldn't signal to the rest of the NBA that the Heat aren't going to just roll over the Bulls on their way to a second straight NBA Finals appearance.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, they're likely to be shorthanded in today's game. Though he's still being deemed as a "game time decision," it's unlikely that SF Luol Deng will take to the court in South Beach. In an interview before Friday night's game vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, Deng said that he is a "week away" from being able to play, though it's of course possible that that was an intentional smokescreen. The Bulls may also be without starting SG Richard Hamilton, who sat out on Friday night with a right thigh bruise.
The Heat meanwhile are now just up to full strength, with superstar SG Dwyane Wade back in the line up after recovering from a high ankle sprain, and sharpshooting bench mainstay Mike Miller fully healthy for the first time this season. The Bulls will still have advantages in the frontcourt, and of course no Heat point guard can match up with Derrick Rose, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough to overcome the Heat.
Game date/time: Sunday, January 29, 2012, 2:30 p.m. CST
Location: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Fla.
Radio: ESPN 1000 AM
Odds: Heat favored by 4.5
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