The Miami Heat will look to continue their torrid start at AmericanAirlines Arena when they host the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.
“This shouldn’t be a place a team can come in on a back-to-back and feel like they are confident it will be an easy game,” Erik Spoelstra said after Friday’s 112-103 win over Washington, which was playing on consecutive nights.
The Bulls won’t be on a back-to-back, but the game still figures to be a major challenge for a team that is 4-7 on the road.
Miami is off to the best home start (9-0) in franchise history and is 10 games over .500 overall, while the Bulls seek to dig out of the sluggish beginnings to a season that began with Eastern Conference playoff aspirations.
The Heat are enjoying contributions from veterans and newcomers alike. Jimmy Butler, a former Bull, notched his second triple-double in four days on Friday, contributing 28 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds against the Wizards.
Third-year center Bam Adebayo added a career-high 24 points to go with 14 rebounds, while rookie Tyler Herro scored 22 points, giving him five 20-point games.
Spoelstra called Adebayo “the center version of Jimmy Butler in terms of being a two-way complete player.”
The Heat beat the Bulls 116-108 in Chicago on Nov. 22, withstanding a late charge from the hosts after controlling most of the game.
Miami surged to a 15-0 lead and led 34-16 after one quarter as Chicago missed its first eight shots amid some developing disarray.
Coach Jim Boylen substituted Ryan Arcidiacono for Zach LaVine early in the game, and although LaVine led the team with 15 points, he felt a strain from Boylen’s postgame suggestion that LaVine needed to “think” about “three egregious defensive mistakes” in the early going.
Further, Boylen said, “Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen and our starters have got to play better in order for us to become what we can become.” LaVine took heed the following night in Charlotte, scoring a career-high 49 points and swishing a franchise-record 13 3s — the last with 0.8 seconds remaining to help the Bulls to a 116-115 come-from-behind victory.
LaVine (22 points) and Markkanen (20) paced Chicago against visiting Golden State on Friday, but the Bulls were unable to score in the final 1:03, seeing a two-game winning streak end with a 100-98 defeat.
“It needs to be more of the 48 (minutes),” Boylen said after the Warriors game. “That’s the development part. So as much as I like some of those moments, there are moments when we’ve got to do better.”
Injuries have impacted a few regulars in the Bulls’ rotation while allowing others to get additional minutes.
Forward Otto Porter Jr. missed his 14th successive game Friday while recovering from a bruised left foot, and the team announced he will wear a walking boot in the hopes of accelerating his recovery. The Bulls have not provided a timetable for Chandler Hutchison, who is dealing with a sprained right shoulder, while fellow forward Thaddeus Young wasn’t available against Golden State due to personal reasons. He is set to rejoin the team against the Heat.
Miami was without Goran Dragic (right groin strain) and Justise Winslow (back strain) on Friday. Dragic is out for Sunday, while Winslow was considered questionable.
–Field Level Media