The Chicago Bulls (35-9) welcome the Miami Heat (31-10) to an unseasonably warm Windy City as they try and take down the NBA's evil empire for the first time in 10 months.
Game One of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, when the Chicago Bulls romped to a 103-82 victory over the Miami Heat and looked poised to land in the NBA Finals after having swept the Heat in the regular season, seems like a long, long time ago. Since then, the Heat have won five straight over Chicago, including the teams' only meeting this season, in which the Heat defeated the Bulls 97-93 on South Beach despite a furious comeback from Chicago.
The story of arguably the NBA's top current rivalry won't truly be told until— or, if— the teams meet in the 2012 playoffs, but it's safe to say that the Bulls are tired of losing to the Heat. The perception of the Heat's supremacy over the Bulls also likely won't change unless Chicago can start to rack up some wins over Miami, and that's despite the fact that Chicago has spent most of the past two seasons with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
The good news for Chicago is that they may be healthier on Wednesday night than when they last met Miami in late January. The Bulls are expected to once again be without Richard Hamilton, but Luol Deng will be in the starting line up after missing the teams' first match up. Deng, who was named to his first All Star game this season, figures to be especially motivated tonight after being locked down by LeBron James in last year's playoffs.
As for the rest of Chicago's injuries, Derrick Rose is being called a game-time decision with a groin injury, but he is expected by most to play tonight. Back up point guard C.J. Watson is also being called a game-time decision, so the Bulls re-signed Mike James today to shore up their backcourt depth.
Game date/time: Wednesday, March 14, 8:30 p.m. EST
Location: United Center, Chicago, Ill.
Odds: Chicago by 1.5
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