The Chicago Bulls are back on the road today for a late afternoon matinee against the Miami Heat at America Airlines Arena. This is the second time the two teams will hook up this season, but the first near South Beach.
In the first meeting at the United Center back on November 22nd, former Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler posted a game-high 27 points to lead Miami to a 116-108 victory. Butler and the Heat got off to fast start, running out to a 34-16 lead by the end of the opening stanza, and stretching their advantage to 24 points by halftime, 67-43. But then the Bulls went on a run of their own, outscoring Miami 65-49 in the second half to make the game competitive down the stretch. Zach LaVine dropped a team-high 15 points while Ryan Arcidiacono (10), Coby White (12) and Thaddeus Young (12) each scored in double-digits off the bench.
As for today, both the Bulls and Heat last played Friday, with Chicago hosting Golden State and Miami, who sits comfortably in first place in the Southeast Division, welcoming Washington to South Florida.
For the Bulls to give themselves a legitimate shot of coming out on top today they're going to have to take the floor with the proverbial chip on their shoulders and be aggressive at both ends of the floor. A stout rebounding effort — especially at the defensive end — should help ignite Chicago's transition game and allow the Bulls to put points on the board in bunches.
Chicago is at its most effective when they stampede out of the gates and set up a fast and unselfish pace from the start. They must share the ball consistently, skipping it from player-to-player and from side-to-side, while at the same time seek opportunities to take advantage of gaps in the defense. All five on the floor need to attack the basket whenever a driving lane opens.
For Chicago to succeed they must approach every game with a blue-collar mindset, aggressively going after every rebound, assertively jumping into passing lanes, double-teaming the ball, especially so when it's passed it into a corner, and lastly never allow Miami to outhustle them in any phase of the game.