By Adam Harris-
UNITED CENTER (CBS) Injuries have plagued the Bulls this season, but their reputation remains the same with the NBA’s best.
“That doesn’t change their style,” Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said Wednesday after his team’s shootaround at the United Center. “Come on. We know better than that. They’ve dealt with injuries for the last two years as well as anybody. One thing that will always remain the same with them is that physical disposition. They are a great defensive team still, with all the adversity they’ve been through. They’re very well coached and committed to that side of the floor.”
LeBron James, the NBA’s third leading scorer, was nonchalant yet respectful when asked about the Bulls’ physicality despite injuries.
“That’s their nature,” James said. “We wouldn’t expect anything less.”
Meanwhile, despite rapper Waka Flaka Flame’s attempt at breaking news last night, Derrick Rose has officially been ruled out for tonight’s game against the Heat. Joakim Noah is a game-time decision, Marco Belinelli is most likely out and Richard Hamilton isn’t going to play.
The Heat, on the other hand, got some encouraging news in regards to superstar Dwyane Wade. Wade hasn’t played in two straight games, but he expects to give it a go tonight after testing his sore right knee in the shootaround.
“The soreness went away,” Wade said. “Having three or four days of rest, I was able to relax a little bit. I’ll give it a go and get back into the groove a little bit.”
Wade jokingly added that he will probably ask for a sub in the first minute or so, but it shouldn’t matter either way. The Heat are in the midst of a 27-game winning streak, chasing the Lakers streak of 33-straight during the 1971-72 season.
Chicago is 9-13 during that same stretch, but the Heat are still taking them seriously.
“It’s a tough place to play and this team plays with so much energy,” Wade said. “This is a team that is hard to play when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare because they are going to come out and play hard. That’s Thibs’ way … We have to come out and try to match their energy again.”
The Bulls fell victim to one of the Heat’s 27-straight victories on February 21st at the United Center. That game saw 26 Bulls turnovers as the Heat dominated the pace of that 19-point win, holding the Bulls to just 67 points.
“It was one of them,” James said when asked if that game was their best defensive effort. “We were very active defensively, and we were in tune with our defensive principles. It was a good showing for us.”
James was particularly good Feb. 21 against the Bulls, going 11-of-15 from the field, efficiently scoring 26 points with 12 boards and seven assists. He seemed determined this afternoon to get away from the media and begin his mental focus on tonight’s affair.
Follow Adam Harris on Twitter at @AHarris670.