[Thanks to BULLieving in Miami for today's game preview -ed.]
Bring on Miami Sunday, indeed!! Fearless words from our blog leader!!
The Bulls are riding high after their victory at Orlando. They now stand at 42-18, SECOND in the East (4th in the NBA) and keep traveling south to finish up their 5-game eastern road swing in Miami. That's right, the Heat: the team currently chasing the Bulls in the standings. Do you think this game loses any of its luster because the Bulls have already claimed the season series? Uh-uh. Is this game meaningless because the Bulls have already guaranteed themselves a successful road trip? Think again. In fact, right here, on the spot, as you read this, I have come up with a new word for these games when it comes to the Bulls: it is not a stampede, it is not a statement... it's a stampment!! On Sunday afternoon in hot Miami, the atmosphere will be just right for the Bulls to make another stampment and possibly further damage a currently fragile Heat psyche. The Heat are losers of 3 in a row, 4 of 5 (a stretch started by the Bulls ten days ago), and are now 1-8 versus BOS, SA, CHI, DAL, and LAL. The loss to San Antonio came Friday night in front of a national audience immediately after that audience watched the Bulls drub Orlando. How's that for the MVP discussion...
About the only thing that can stop the Bulls right now is South Beach... I am not trying to imply that the "talents" of South Beach will get in our Bulls' way. I'm fearful of South Beach itself! It's been proven that South Beach gives the Heat an automatic 10-point advantage when teams come into town. It's true! Young millionaires traveling on the company dime cannot resist a nightlife full of buzz, booze, and boobs. Good thing our front office decided to put together a team of basketball dorks who want no part of such nonsense. Our little gym rats are either working on improving their free throws or tucked away in bed dreaming about proper defensive rotation. Who am I kiddin'! The boys are out living it up with cocktails and Rick Ross as they should be. This team is rolling, ascending, playing with energy just about every night, and really making a name for themselves in the NBA. I mean, when announcers are taking notice of Omer Asik, you know your team has arrived. I just hope they got all the party out of their systems Friday night after arriving from Orlando to give them a good day to kick the hangover, or that the organization was smart and scheduled them to fly in Saturday night so there'd be no time to party with a 1pm tip local time.
The Heat, meanwhile, are the ones suffering a hangover. After blowing a 24-point lead Thursday night at home versus the Magic, the Heat fizzled in San Antonio and now really look like a team searching for an identity. In all honesty, it does speak to the wealth of talent they do have at the top of their roster that they've been able to amass the record they have with no semblance of an offense or clear identity as a team. Sure they excel in the open court, but everyone knows the game changes and slows down in the postseason. They've now added Mike Bibby who debuted during that game to Orlando and came off the bench. That is yet to net positive results, and it was odd to see Lebron still bringing up the ball when Bibby was on the floor (at least during the Orlando game.didn't see the Spurs game). It'd probably be a stretch to say that locker room must be volatile at the moment, but I would say tensions might be growing. LeBrick can't seem to make a late shot to save his team, an area Wade used to excel in and he could be getting frustrated watching the last couple of close losses in the end play out in the same fashion. Perhaps the expectations are catching up with this team since they haven't gone out and trounced on everyone as many "experts" predicted. Ultimately, you could see this fate befalling them before the season. No consistent PG play, no inside threat, no consistent outside threat. If they go out and dominate and win out in the postseason then who cares about these struggles now, but right now they are struggling.
What else is there to be said about this matchup. The two teams have played a few times now, know each other well, are fully aware of the hype surrounding their teams and each other. Home court advantage is at stake for both teams; the Bulls have it, the Heat want it. You can even argue the Heat have more to play for in this game as they continue to soul-search. Whatever the case may be, it will definitely be an electric atmosphere... if the crowd ever shows up.
Remember, early start. Noon on ABC for all the Central Timers in the room. 1PM for us down here, even though my day will still start early as I will be attending (400 level. all I could afford last minute. will be rocking my Derrick home white) and have pre-game festivities to handle. I'm hoping to catch me a glimpse of Stacey and the Hunk. Enjoy! Cheer with confidence! Go Bulls!!!