Division leaders Chicago and Miami will clash on the hardwood today as each looks to keep a leg up on a surging rival. The Bulls, who may get the injured Luol Deng back for this afternoon’s game, are 3.5 games ahead of the Pacers in the Central while the Heat lead the Atlanta Hawks by just a half game in the Southeast. Today’s contest is scheduled to tip off at 3:30pm ET at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami; it will be broadcast live on ABC. The latest NBA Odds have the Heat listed as a -4.5 against the spread favorite and the game total set at 189.5 points.
The last time Chicago tangled with Miami was Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals back in May. The Bulls fell 80-83 at the United Center in that contest, sending the Big Three onto an NBA Finals showdown with the Dallas Mavericks. The victory also marked the Heat’s fourth consecutive win over the Bulls and league MVP Derrick Rose.
That series stood in stark contrast to the regular season, though, which saw Chicago win all three meetings between the two budding rivals. Granted, the Bulls did not dominate those three games, winning them by an average of just 2.7 points, but Rose proved a major problem for Miami’s perimeter defense on each occasion.
Here we are again with both squads looking like the cream of the East crop. The Bulls are 17-4 overall and 5-1 over their last six games despite the absence of Luol Deng in the team’s three most recent outings. Miami is 14-5 overall and 6-1 in its last seven contests, a record it compiled mostly without the services of Dwyane Wade, who returned to the lineup two nights ago after missing six games with an ankle injury.
The Heat ran its home record to 8-2 on Friday with an 99-89 win over the rapidly fading Knicks. Miami limited New York, which was playing without its leading scorer Carmelo Anthony, to 35.7 field goal shooting. Amazingly, 43 of the Knicks 84 shots came from beyond the arc. LeBron James and Wade led the way offensively for Miami, scoring 31 and 28 points respectively. Chris Bosh, who averaged nearly 27 points per game while Wade was out, chipped in 13 points and nine boards.
The Bulls bounced back from an unexpected home loss to the Pacers with a 107-100 win over the Andrew Bogut-less Bucks on Friday. Rose notched 34 points in the win while Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer each contributed a double-double.
So, both teams looked primed for a slug-fest and today’s contest figures to be just that, especially with each team having, hopefully, its full compliment of players.
NBA Odds Betting Trend: Miami is 2-8 both straight up and against the spread in its last 10 games as a home favorite with a spread between 4 and 7.5 points and total between 185 and 190.
Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat 2012 NBA Odds: Provided by Bovada.lv
Chicago Bulls +4.5 (-110), Over 189.5 (-110)
Miami Heat -4.5 (-110), Under 189.5 (-110)