Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls
Tip-off: Thursday, February 21, 2013 – 8:00 PM ET
United Center, Chicago, IL
The Miami Heat are currently riding a season-high win streak and YouWager experts point out that they are beginning to set themselves apart from the rest of the Eastern Conference.
In contrast, the Chicago Bulls are just looking to come out victorious in back-to-back games for the first time in February.
Miami is close to getting their first nine-game winning streak in a year, but tonight they’ll have to defeat Chicago away from home in the regular season for the first time in almost three years.
The Heat (37-14) have built a five-game lead on second-place New York Knicks in the race for the East’s top seed, and the club is showing every indication it can widen the gap further as it bids to repeat as NBA champion.
Miami has won eight games in a row, averaging 107.6 points on 51.4 percent shooting — 39.8 from behind the arc. The Heat last won nine in a row from Feb. 10-March 1, 2012.
An outstanding fourth quarter last night got them closer to matching that run. The Heat opened the final period by scoring the first 13 points to erase a 10-point deficit and outscored the Atlanta Hawk 40-17 in the final 12 minutes of its 103-90 victory.
Miami is likely to have difficulties offensively against Chicago (31-22), scoring 91.0 points per game while dropping six of the last eight regular-season meetings, including a 96-89 home loss on Jan. 4.
The Heat have lost nine of the past 11 visits to Chicago, last winning during the season on March 25, 2010, but did win twice at the United Center in the 2011 conference finals.
James has averaged 32.6 points over his last 17 games there — including the NBA playoffs — and he scored 30 against them Jan. 4.
The Bulls are currently looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 28 and 30 after emerging from the break to beat the New Orleans Hornets 96-87 on Tuesday.
Chicago is looking forward to having Derrick Rose back from last season’s left knee injury in time for the stretch run to the playoffs.
According to the NBA odds and live lines, Luol Deng, the team leader with 16.8 points per game, had only six last month when facing Miami after going 2 for 9 from the floor.