GAME DAY FROM THE UNITED CENTER:
Miami 25-17 (13-8 on the road) at Bulls: (16-27, 10-11 at home) 2:30 tip.
TV: NBC Sports Chicago: Neil Funk and Stacey King: 2:30 tipoff.
RADIO: WLS 890 AM : Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington and Steve Kashul. 2PM CT pre.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: Mirotic: 17ppg. Heat: Dragic: 17.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen: 7. Heat: Whiteside: 11.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Dunn: 6. Heat: Dragic: 4.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS: Miami 2-0 series lead.
November 1st in Miami: Heat 97-91. Whiteside 13 points-14 rebounds. Bulls: Markkanen: 25 points 8 rebounds.
November 26: Heat 100 Bulls 93. Bulls held Miami to a franchise low seven first quarter points then proceeded to score 38 in the second period. Jerian Grant with 24. James Johnson 15-7-6.
Series leaders: Dragic: 22 pg (2 games)- 50% vs Bulls
Lauri Markkanen: 18 points 9 rebounds.
BULLS TAKING ONE GAME AT A TIME:Plenty of ball left but the 2017-18 edition of the Bulls remind me so much of the 2016-17 Miami Heat. The Heat got off to an 11-30 start and finished strong, 30-11 missing the playoffs on the last day of the season. The Bulls pace and space has turned this club around with the return of Niko Mirotic and the maturation and development of Dunn, Markkanen and the Bulls bench which has the potential of becoming one of the better second units in the NBA.
The Minnesota blockbuster deal is a win-win for everyone. Jimmy Butler is having another All Star type season for Minnesota and the 16th overall pick Justin Patton will make some noise when his time arrives. The Bulls came up with three quality-plus starters in Dunn, Markkanen and LaVine. Just not fill in guys who eat minutes on the floor. All three can play at a high, competitive level. Dunn is now second in the NBA in steals to Paul George swiping two per game.
HEAT CHECK: Coach Spo has done an amazing job with a roster that has been decimated with injuries. Dion Waiters will miss the rest of the year with a recurring ankle issue that will require surgery. The Heat did get back former number one pick (tenth overall) Justise Winslow after missing fourteen games with a knee injury.
Miami won it’s seventh straight on Sunday to improve to 25-17 with a 97-79 trouncing of the Bucks in Florida. Goran Dragic is a terrific player, an underrated player and has been been for a long time. Bulls fans remember him as “ the guy on the Rose poster” (Suns-Bulls in Phoenix). Dragic was Steve Nash’s understudy in Phoenix and has so many similarities. I am NOT saying Dragic is Nash. Nash is going in to the Hall of Fame one day but Dragic, like Nash, keeps the dribble alive and is patient with the ball and isn’t afraid to take it to the rim. He can score in bunches. I expect Kris Dunn to be all over him this afternoon.
When the Heat picked up Hassan Whiteside in 2014 they really didn’t expect him to turn into a max player. Here’s a guy that was the 33rd player in the 2010 drafted by the Kings and is waived two years later. He’s out of the league for two seasons before Miami wanted to give him a look see. The rest is history. He went from receiving the league minimum of 981-thousand in 2015-16 to 23 million the following season. Uncle Sam is a big fan of Hassan Whiteside!
BULLS MOJO: The vibe in the Bulls locker-room following a thrilling win over Detroit was outstanding. Everyone was genuinely happy for Zach LaVine returning to the court for the first time in nearly a year. Bulls players saw first hand how hard LaVine worked to put himself in a position to get back on the floor. I’ve been in enough locker-rooms in my career and this is one of the better ones I’ve seen. LaVine was extremely gracious with his time afterward. My one on one interview with Zach is posted on BullsTV on Bulls.com.
NBA NEWS AND NOTES
In addition to the Heat win over Milwaukee, the Pelicans overcame a 19 point deficit and beat the Knicks in OT at MSG. A bad loss for NY who need to win as many home games as they possibly cane. They’ve got a ton of road games and with them sliding out of the playoff picture one has to wonder if GM Scott Perry starts wheeling and dealing with an eye toward 2018-19 and a lottery pick. Anthony Davis had a season high 48 points and 17 rebounds, 3 blocks. I caught the game on league pass and his turn around base line left jumper on Porzingis late in OT was filthy. Bulls will be in NOLA a week from today.
Headlines in the Minnesota papers: “ Timberwolves bounce Blazers, Vikings win too.” LOL— What an NFL playoff game, that was crazy but I digress The Wolves are at 29-16. and are within two wins of matching their win total of a year ago of 31.
Seven double figure scorers for Indiana in a 23 point win over the Suns. Congratulations to former Bull Tyson Chandler who became the 40th player in NBA history to collect 10-thousand career rebounds. Wasn’t it just yesterday he was coming out of high school?
The Lakers announced Lonzo Ball has a minor left knee sprain and is questionable for today’s game at Memphis.
Today we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. My hope is that we all embrace his message of unity and inclusion and carry the spirit of true freedom in our hearts, minds and souls.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that."- MLK.
Always a pleasure and Go Bulls!