Heat-Bulls Preview

While the playoffs have been a much different story, the Miami

Heat have had their share of trouble against the Chicago Bulls

during the regular season.

That’s even been the case when the Bulls haven’t had Derrick

Rose.

Following their first loss in 11 games, the Heat hope to get

back on track Thursday night when they make their first trip to

Chicago this season.

Since LeBron James came aboard in 2010-11, Miami (14-4) has

needed only five games to win a pair of postseason series with the

Bulls (7-9) – one of which came over Rose-less Chicago just seven

months ago.

The regular-season series has been a tougher challenge for the

Heat. They’ve dropped seven of 12 to the Bulls since James and

Chris Bosh came aboard, including five of six in Chicago.

Miami has split its six regular-season meetings since 2010-11

when Rose has been out for the Bulls, including a 2-2 record in

last season’s series.

The Heat shot 51.4 percent and hit 11 for 20 from 3-point range

in a 107-95 season-opening victory over visiting Chicago. James led

seven players in double figures with 17 points to go along with

eight assists and six rebounds.

The four-time MVP has averaged 30.8 points in his last four

regular-season games at the United Center.

It’s not a sure thing that Wade, who finished with 13 points in

that contest, will play Thursday after being held out of Tuesday’s

107-97 loss to Detroit because of knee soreness. Wade, however, has

never missed any of 29 career trips to Chicago – including the

postseason – since entering the league.

The Heat have gone 2-2 this season without the Chicago native,

who has averaged 26.5 points in his last six regular-season

visits.

Without Wade on Tuesday, LeBron James and Michael Beasley

finished with 23 points apiece, but Miami had its 10-game winning

streak snapped by the visiting Pistons.

”It’s a miss or make league at times,” James said after the

league’s most accurate team made a season-low 43.9 percent from the

field. “They made. We missed.”

Following a five-game stretch in which the Bulls made 38.5

percent from the floor, they’ve shot 49.2 percent over their last

three contests.

They reached 100 points in regulation for the first time in

eight games Monday, but dropped their first home game of the season

in a 131-128 triple-overtime loss to New Orleans. The Bulls have

one win since Rose went down for the season with a tear in the

meniscus of his right knee on Nov. 22.

”Right now a lot of things aren’t going our way,” forward Luol

Deng said. ”We have to stick with it and keep fighting and keep

working hard. It’s not going to turn around by itself. We have to

make it happen.”

Deng led the Bulls with a season-high 37 points, eight rebounds

and seven assists while playing a career regular season-high 56

minutes in Monday’s loss, and Taj Gibson had a career-high 26

points and 14 boards. Mike Dunleavy added season highs with 23

points and six 3-pointers and Joakim Noah had his best game with 19

points and 10 rebounds.

Chicago, though, could have some weary legs even three days

later. Noah and Kirk Hinrich also played 50-plus minutes, while

Dunleavy played 48 and Gibson 44.

Boozer, who finished with four points in 26 minutes, had a

season-best 31 points on 13-of-18 shooting on opening night in

Miami. He’s averaged 22.7 points and 14.7 boards in his last three

regular-season meetings with the Heat.

Miami has won five straight against the Bulls, including last

season’s playoff series.