Since the Chicago Bulls stunted the Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak last month, LeBron James and his team have gone 7-1, albeit with most the starters resting for the playoffs.
The No. 1 seed Heat can gain some revenge for Chicago hindering their shot at history Sunday afternoon at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Chicago has made a habit shutting down streaks, also ending the New York Knicks 13-game run earlier this week.
Miami’s Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh returned to the court Friday in a 109-101 win over the Boston Celtics, after each took some time off prior to the playoffs.
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James missed three of the Heat’s last six games, as did Bosh, but Wade came back after sitting for six straight. Though against Boston, the Miami bench did most of the heavy lifting.
James had 20 points, Bosh 17 and Wade 11, but veteran shooting guard Ray Allen totaled 17 points, and Rashard Lewis pumped in 19 points. The hot shooting pair went a combined 6-for-9 from 3-point range.
Norris Cole also went 3-for-3 from deep, scoring 12 points in the process.
A full-force Miami could hinder the Bulls chances at moving up the East playoff bracket. Chicago is a half game back of the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 5 spot in the postseason, despite going 3-3 in their last six games.
Two of those losses have come at the hands of the Toronto Raptors, including Friday’s 97-88 letdown.
On the wrong end of a back-to-back, Chicago’s typically top-notch defense couldn’t contain Raptors Rudy Gay and Amir Johnson, who had 23 and 24 points, respectively, and four Toronto starters reached double figures.
Forward Carlos Boozer tallied 19 points and 12 rebounds, and center Nazr Mohammad collected 16 points and 13 rebounds. Nate Robinson continued his strong play off the bench with 17 points and 3-for-5 shooting from three.
The Bulls clearly missed leading rebounder and shot blocker Joakim Noah, who’s missed three consecutive games with plantar fasciitis. The injury is expected to bother Noah into the playoffs.
The game tips-off at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast by ABC.
Betting Odds: Miami is favored by 8 points
Prediction: If all of the Big Three are in, and Noah is out again, Chicago will have a difficult time keeping up. Now would be a time the Bulls would really need Derrick Rose and his scoring. Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer will do their best, but Miami should take this one.
Predicted Score: Miami 98, Chicago 87