8:00 PM ET, October 29, 2013
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
As the Miami Heat try to extend their mark on NBA history, Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls hope they are capable of ending Florida’s recent dominance within the Eastern Conference.
The visiting Chicago team get an early crack at the two-time reigning NBA champion Miami when they open the season tonight.
Following a lavish celebration of the team’s second straight league title and third in eight seasons, the Heat as well as their YouWager fans expect to be all business going forward.
Miami is trying to join the Boston Celtics of 1957-66 and 1984-87, and Los Angeles Lakers of 1982-85, as the only teams to make at least four consecutive trips to the NBA championship series.
With the assistance of James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen again leading the way, and Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem and Michael Beasley headlining a solid supporting cast, Miami is poised to accomplish that feat while trying to become the first team since the Lakers of 2000-02 to come out victorious with three straight NBA titles.
The Heat needed seven games to beat the Indiana Pacers in the East finals and the San Antonio Spurs in the title series in 2012-13, but those basketball playoffs capped a remarkable season in which Miami went 66-16, won 27 in a row and took 27 of the final 29 regular-season contests against conference rivals.
The Bulls split the four-game regular-season series with Miami in 2012-13.
Chicago ranked 29th with 93.2 points per game last season — 3.1 fewer than in 2011-12 with Derrick Rose. Even so, since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Bulls are yielding a league-low 93.1 points a contest.
The Bulls’ Joakim Noah made his first All-Star game while setting career highs with averages of 11.9 points and 11.1 rebounds last season. The 28 year-old could miss the opener due to a groin injury.
Chicago is hoping for continued development from third-year shooting guard Jimmy Butler, who was difficult for Miami in last season’s playoff series by averaging 15.6 points. Butler became a starter in March and scored 14.5 per game, and the 24 year-old is expected to be in the starting lineup today.