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Bulls vs. Heat game preview and open thread

tank Keeps Rolling All Night Long

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

[Thanks to Bullieving In Miami for today’s game preview. We haven’t really offered sign-ups for these because nobody cares about this team anymore, so extra special thanks in this case -yfbb]

A professional basketball game will be played Thursday night in beautiful downtown Miami. However, only one of these teams can be considered professional... and that’s your Chicago Bulls, amirite??? The Bulls ride into the Magic City in the midst of a tailspin, losers of their last six in a row. This is the first leg of a Sunshine State back-to-back for Los Bulls. Meeting for the fourth time the Heat lead the season series 2-1 and will be looking to avenge that lone loss from back in January. What a different time it was back then. 2018 hadn’t beat us across the head yet, considering the recent deaths of Stephen Hawking and Craig Mack. The Heat was streaking, and “tanking v. playoffs” had become a debate around Bulls fandom. Fast forward almost three months, the Bulls are the laughing stock we knew they would be all along, and the Heat are making Lebron look foolish.

Remember back in the summer of 2016 when Chicago’s favorite son was coming home? Yeah, I know, I just had breakfast come back up a little in the back of my throat, same as you. Dwyane Wade has come home... again. During the Cleveland roster shuffle at the trade deadline Cavs GM Lebron James did his banana boat cohort D-Wade a favor and shipped him back to South Beach where he can play his remaining days as an ambassador to Heat Culture. That’s all fine and dandy now while Wade is playing on NBA minimum wage while making his bankroll for the year on the Bulls’ dime. Wait until this summer when contracts need to be negotiated again and Wade wants $10 milli but Pat Riley is only offering more NBA minimum wage. But I digress. It’s all warm and fuzzies down in the MIA as our greatest athlete is back where he belongs, accepting his bench role and playing the part of “closer” that the Heat desperately needed in order to make a playoff push.

Currently sitting at 7th in the Eastern Conference playoff picture (right where they want to be for a first-round matchup with the Celtics), the Heat have 5 of their remaining 7 games at home, where they sport a 23-13 record; plenty of ammunition and lots to play for to maintain that spot with Milwaukee just a half-game behind. They may also be finally getting healthy at just the right time. Hassan Whiteside is a game-time decision, having missed the last 9 with a hip flexor. Wade just recently returned after missing some time for being old. Rookie backup big man Bam Adebayo went down with an ankle injury Sunday and missed the Heat’s destruction of the Cavs Tuesday.

Adebayo has been a nice addition to the Heat this year, having been selected #14 overall out of Kentucky in this past June’s draft. He’s athletic, enough so that he has even shown flashes of keeping up on defense with smaller players on the perimeter. I honestly thought the Heat could possibly look to trade Whiteside at the deadline in a potential roster shake-up, having a ready replacement in Adebayo on the team on a rookie contract. It’s still a possibility Miami could entertain this coming offseason as Whiteside is simply not in the mold of a modern big, seems to have lapses in effort, yet carries a max contract. Bam is also a more willing passer already at this stage in his career when compared to Whiteside.

Josh Richardson, coming off a very successful December when these two teams met back in January, has struggled recently. Having scored over 17 PPG on 54% from the field before the calendar turned, 2018 has seen his numbers come down, averaging 14, 14.9, and now 11.7 these last 3 months, with his shooting dropping down to 46% in March. Not terrible for a wing, but definitely not where he was back in December and not where this Heat organization values him. The former second-round selection in his 3rd year has some work to do on providing quality production on a consistent basis. He definitely has the tools to do it with his lanky frame and smooth athleticism.

The Heat have all the good feels flowing. Coach Erik Spoelstra just became a father over the weekend. Father Prime is back in the building. Goran Dragic made the all-star team as the 18th injury replacement option. They just beat the Lebrons. They look like locks for the postseason, 5 losses ahead of #9 Detroit. All is good in the sunny 305 (though I am of the 786 area code. #jealous). Considering what the Bulls have been trotting out lately with lineups of Markkanen, Bobby P, Valentine, and a bunch of amateurs, we really shouldn’t have any expectations of a Bulls victory tonight. In fact, I suppose the mere notion is offensive to #TeamTank. The Heat are motivated and have excellent depth where NBA-rotation-quality players are losing minutes on any given night. But who cares, right? The Process obviously works, look at Philly! Nevermind Cleveland (where did all those top picks get them before Lebron returned...), or the Suns with Booker and nothing else to show for it after several years of losing, or the Magic, also perennial losers who I wish would just pack up and move to Seattle. Or the Browns!!! Let’s hope we’re kicking back some cold brew in a few years laughing at these lowly times as the Bulls are more Sixers than Dog Pound with our young core of Lauri, Doncic, and some really great basketball player that probably hasn’t been born yet coasting to a top seed ready to defend a championship they’ve already won in the next iteration of a Chicago Dynasty, all brought together by REAL muppets like Kermit and Elmo, not the Bert & Ernie rejects we have running things right now. In the meantime, enjoy the contest tonight as well as what remains of the 2017-2018 CamPayne.

Catch the action beginning at 6:30 PM CST on WGN. Hot Hot Hoops is the place to chit-chat with the opposition.