Having the national television spotlight with a team missing a superstar is becoming a familiar theme for the Miami Heat. This game is no different.
Normally this game would be considered a possible preview of the Eastern Conference Finals, but the 2012 off season shifted the landscape for both teams. Miami added to their perimeter arsenal that was key in winning the first championship of the ‘Big 3’ era and LeBron James the NBA Finals MVP award while stretching their salary cap space as far as possible. Chicago on the other hand has tried to shed as much salary cap space as the team could for two reasons. First, to avoid the NBA salary luxury tax, which the Bulls have never paid in their history. Second, Chicago most likely considered this season lost due to the absence of Derrick Rose, who suffered a torn ACL in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
So far this season both teams have either met or have exceeded expectations. The Heat are currently sitting atop the East with one of the most potent three-point attacks in the league. The Bulls have been able to maintain the hustle and defense expected of them by head coach Tom Thibodeau and have been able to remain competitive in the Central division.
Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra will be keeping an eye on James tonight as he has a knee bruise. He has also had James log heavy minutes in the Heat’s last two games, both being decided in overtime.
Rose has traveled with the Bulls as part of his rehabilitation effort. Chicago expects him to be able to return to the court by the end of the All Star break.