NBA Betting – Bulls Face Heat in Miami
Zack GarrisonNo comments
On Sunday (Dec. 14), the Chicago Bulls (14-8) will take on the middling Miami Heat (11-12) at AmericanAirlines Arena (6:00 p.m. Eastern). The Bulls will be looking to create some distance between themselves and the Cavaliers in the Central Division while Cleveland suffers through injuries.
Though the NBA season started almost two months ago, the Miami Heat have not found a new identity in the absence of LeBron James. For a time, it looked like Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would be able to keep Miami near the top of the Eastern Conference. However, the aging Wade has missed large chunks of time, and Bosh has not been able to carry the offense without his point guard.
Bosh is having a good season, averaging over 21 points and eight rebounds per game. But the likes of Luol Deng and Mario Chalmers have not become the go-to players coach Erik Spoelstra was hoping. Without Lebron, the Heat’s rebounding woes have only gotten worse. Bosh is the only Heat player averaging more than five per game, including Deng, a 6’9″ forward who averages over 30 minutes per game. As of Friday, Miami was last in the league in rebounding margin at -5 (tied with the 2-19 Philadelphia 76ers).
Wade’s importance to the team was on full display on Friday. The 11-year pro out of Marquette scored 29 points in 34 minutes of floor time, leading the Heat past the Utah Jazz, 100-95. The win was just the second in the last seven for Miami.
Like Miami, the Chicago Bulls have also suffered from injury problems this season, most notably to star point guard Derrick Rose. Rose looks to be healthy for the first time in ages (playing nine straight games for Chicago), but the injury problems continue, as 2013-14 Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah is sidelined with an ankle injury.
Even without Noah, the Bulls crushed the Brooklyn Nets last Wednesday (105-80) and handled the Northwest Division-leading Portland Trail Blazers on Friday (115-106). Taj Gibson picked up the slack in the rebounding department, pulling down nine defensive boards against Brooklyn and ten total against Portland.
With Pau Gasol (12.2 RPG) healthy, the Bulls should be able to dominate the glass against Miami, whether Noah is able to suit up or not. The big Spaniard also had ten rebounds in the win over the Blazers.
It was Rose who blazed the trail to victory against Portland, though, scoring 31 points on 14 of 24 shooting.
Miami was able to keep pace with the Wizards and Hawks in the mediocre Southeast Division early in the year, but have now lost five of seven, and are 5.5 games back of their division foes. The Heat haven’t been any better at home than on the road this season, going just 4-6 at American Airlines Arena. In contrast, the Bulls have been solid playing on the road with a 10-3 mark.
Look for Miami’s home-court struggles to continue.