Eastern Conference Tug of War: Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls NBA Handicapping Preview

Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls
Thursday, 2/24/11, 8:00 PM EDT, TV:  TNT
Opening Point Spread:  Miami -1
Current Betting Line:  Miami -2.5
Opening Total:  192
Current Total:  191.5

The Miami Heat have won 11 of their last 12 games and are favored on the road against the Chicago Bulls

Miami will not be missing star LeBron James for its second meeting against tonight’s opponent after dropping a 99-96 decision to Chicago at the United Center on January 15.  “We’re looking forward to it,” said Heat forward Chris Bosh.  “For one, they’re one of the best teams in the East, really the league for that matter and they’re playing well.”  The Heat coasted to an easy 117-97 home win over the Kings in their first game back since the All-Star break, which was actually the team’s 11th victory in 12 games.  James led the squad with 31 points, while Bosh and Dwyane Wade combined for another 45.  “We have to understand that we cannot afford to take a step backward and we have to keep moving forward,” James commented.  “Every game, every practice, every film session is important.”  Miami is 28-27 ATS on the season and currently a road favorite on the NBA lines page.

The Heat are currently 42-15 overall and have produced a 13-5 road mark against Eastern Conference foes.  The overall mark ties the best 57-game start in franchise history, matching the 1996-97 squad’s success.  Miami is 37-45 all-time against Chicago in the regular season, including a 14-27 mark in games played in the Windy City.  The team has found considerable success on the road this season, collecting 21 road wins that has it tied for the most in the NBA this season.

Chicago was obviously focused on tonight’s game when dropping a 118-113 road game against Toronto last night, allowing the opposition to shoot 58.1 percent from the field in the process.  “We wanted this so we would go into the Miami game with a lot of confidence,” said point guard Derrick Rose.  “Now we’ve got to go into it aggressively.  We’ve got to prove the point that we can play defense.”  It was a surprising effort due to the team having given up more than 100 points in just five of the previous 36 games.  The 118 points allowed were the second-most this season by Chicago, which is limiting opponents to 92.4 per game.  Chicago is 9-4 ATS as an underdog this season.

The Bulls welcomed back one of their strongest interior players from injury last night, as Joakim Noah scored seven points and grabbed 16 rebounds.  Chicago is glad to have him back, but it’s also important to point out that the team went 22-8 without him.  “It’s definitely not the result I wanted but we’ve got to keep fighting,” he commented.  “We’ve go to come with a better edge.”  At home this season, the defensive unit has held opponents to a league-low 41.3 percent shooting from the floor.

Bettors are likely going to back the Bulls due to their 13-6 ATS mark as a home underdog, while the Heat are 4-10-2 ATS in Chicago.

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