The champion Warriors, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose are just some of the many reasons to tune in
POSTED: Mar 1, 2016 12:15 PM ET
There's always a reason to watch when these superstar guards take the floor.
The Heat have won nine of their last 10 games against Eastern Conference opponents as they set to host Chicago on NBA TV tonight. This stretch of wins began on January 25th when Miami took down the Bulls 89-84 in their only matchup so far this season. Since the All-Star break, the Heat are 4-2 overall with all of their wins coming without Chris Bosh, who is dealing with blood clot issues. The addition of Joe Johnson (see below) should add a spark to the Miami offense as they hope to climb up the Eastern Conference standings over the final six weeks. Miami currently sits two games behind Boston for the No. 3 seed in the East.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Bulls are reeling as they continue to deal with a bevvy of injuries to key contributors. Jimmy Butler (knee), Nikola Mirotic (appendicitis) and Joakim Noah (shoulder) are all out for Chicago tonight. Derrick Rose (hamstring) will play after missing the last three games. On January 7th, the Bulls were the No. 2 seed in the East and only 2.5 games behind Cleveland for the top spot. Since then, Chicago has gone 8-16 and fallen into a tie for the Nos. 6 through 9 seeds with Detroit, Charlotte and Indiana. A loss tonight would knock the Bulls out of the top eight in the East for the first time since January 1, 2014. Pau Gasol will try to avoid that and continue his hot play of late as he averages 16.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists since the All-Star break. Doug McDermott has also been strong amid injuries with averages of 19.6 points on 10-for-20 from 3-point range over his last five games.
Joe Johnson is set to make his home debut for the Heat after playing a key role in their win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. The seven-time All-Star signed with Miami after agreeing to a buyout agreement with the Nets last week. On the season, Johnson is averaging 11.8 points on 40.8 percent shooting, 4.1 assists and 3.9 rebounds over 58 games. The Heat hope the 34-year-old guard can return to the form he displayed in 2013-14 and provide a needed offensive boost with Bosh sidelined. The Heat are 18-12 at home this season while Chicago has lost seven of their last eight games on the road.
The Warriors return home with a record of 53-5 after going 5-1 on a six-game road trip following All-Star weekend. They stunned Oklahoma City and clinched a playoff spot on Saturday to become the first team to do so in February since the 1987-88 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. Much of the Warriors' success can be attributed to Stephen Curry, who continues to defy hyperbole with averages of 43.8 points (on 61.1 percent from 3-point range), 7.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds over his last four games. On the season, Curry has already hit an NBA-record 288 3-pointers, which has caused many to wonder if he will be able to reach 400 this season. With 24 games remaining, he would have to average 4.7 3-pointers a game to reach that incredible mark. Curry is a game-time decision after injuring his ankle against the Thunder on Saturday.
The Hawks struggled out of the gates this season, but it appears their trademark defense is finally starting to gel. Atlanta ranks first in defensive rating since January 1 with a record of 12-14 during that span. Obviously, offense is the issue for Atlanta as it ranks 25th in offensive rating over this stretch. The Hawks lost to the Warriors nine days ago in Atlanta as Curry and Klay Thompson outscored Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver 63-18. Atlanta will need much more production from those two tonight as it looks to climb up the tight Eastern Conference standings. The Hawks currently sit 2.5 games behind the No. 3 seed Celtics and two games in front of the No. 9 seed Pistons.
The Warriors have won 42 straight games at home and are 24-0 at Oracle Arena this season. They're two home wins shy of tying the Bulls for the longest home win streak in NBA history. Seventeen of the Warriors final 24 games are at home, which makes their pursuit of 73 wins seem even more realistic. The last team to beat the Warriors at home during the regular season were the Bulls on January 27, 2015. Will the Hawks be able to derail history tonight?
NBA.com staff reports