NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, January 29th (All times eastern)
Chicago Bulls (17-4) at Miami Heat (14-5), 3:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of Eastern Conference heavyweights square off on the shores of Biscayne Bay Sunday afternoon when LeBron James and the Miami Heat play host to Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls in a rematch of last season's conference finals.
The Bulls, who lost to Miami in five games during the East finals a year ago, come in atop the conference, two games ahead of the Heat with a 17-4 record but will be embarking on a more than grueling nine-game road trip starting this afternoon.
Most recently Chicago won for the fifth time in six games on Friday when Rose, the reigning NBA MVP, poured in a season-high 34 points to lead the Bulls to a 107-100 win over the Milwaukee Bucks at United Center.
Carlos Boozer contributed 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Joakim Noah had 15 points and 16 rebounds for Chicago, which picked up its NBA-best 17th win despite playing without two starters, forward Luol Deng (torn ligament in left wrist) and guard Rip Hamilton (thigh bruise). C.J. Watson chipped in 13 points for the Bulls.
"My mindset was to attack," Rose said. "Coach [Tom] Thibodeau showed me film of me attacking, so that's what I tried to do when I went out there."
Both Deng and Hamilton are listed as questionable for this afternoon's contest as the Bulls try to improve on their 8-3 road record. Deng, however, has already indicated he probably won't get back on the floor for another few days.
Chicago will also visit Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Milwaukee, New Jersey, New Orleans, Charlotte and Boston on its mega-trek before returning to the Windy City for a Feb. 14 date against Sacramento.
The Heat, meanwhile, welcomed Dwyane Wade back to the lineup on Friday during a 99-89 victory over the Knicks. The All-Star sparkled in his return to the lineup, scoring 28 points, as Miami withstood a bevy of three-pointers from New York to earn the win.
Wade, who missed six games to a sprained right ankle, made 11 of his 19 field goal attempts and all six of his foul shots. He also came up with five steals and even blocked a pair of shots.
"This is a very good team with or without me," Wade said. "I was just trying to be aggressive. I've been out for a while. The best way to get your rhythm is by attacking the basket."
James, the former two-time MVP, added 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Heat, who have won three in a row and six of their last seven games overall. Chris Bosh scored 13 and had nine boards for Miami, which is 8-2 in South Florida.
"If he's putting on a uniform, I expect greatness out of him," James said of Wade. "To be out six games and look like basically you didn't miss a beat, his speed and his stamina were the two things that were like 'wow.' It's good to have him back."
Chicago won all three regular-season games over the Heat last season before Miami turned the tables in the playoffs.
"The hype is going to be crazy for this game," Rose said.
01/29 10:32:17 ET