The Heat have lost their third straight game today in Chicago. Cause for concern?
The Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat have one of the NBA’s best rivalries. Every time these two teams square up, we expect to see great defense and things always get a little chippy. They didn’t disappoint today and the Bulls came out on top with a 95-88 overtime victory against the Miami Heat in Chicago.
Joakim Noah was the man of the game as he led the Bulls with 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Noah is the leader of this experienced Bulls squad with his energy and hustle, and now his stats are giving him a strong case for consideration as the best center in the NBA. He will definitely be in the conversation for First-Team All-NBA honors as he continues to put up triple-doubles and near triple-doubles every night. Noah’s dad and former Men’s Tennis great Yannick Noah was super excited during his son’s great performance against the Heat.
With the absence of 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose, Bulls point guard DJ Augustin continues to be a major factor for the Bulls as they prepare for the playoffs. Augustin finished the game with 22 points off the bench for Chicago. Jimmy Butler of the Bulls should also be commended for his terrific defense on LeBron James throughout the game as he held James to 8-23 shooting from the field. Butler also picked up a technical foul as the two got into a kicking scuffle in the second half. Dwayne Wade led the Heat with 25 points in the Heat’s third straight loss.
Championships aren’t won in March, so there is no need to overreact about the Heat’s current three game losing streak. All three losses were on the road and were against legitimate threats in both conferences (Rockets, Spurs and Bulls). The San Antonio loss on Thursday was the most eye-popping defeat of the three, as they dismantled the Heat with a 24 point victory. Let’s also take into consideration that the Spurs will be ready to make a statement against the Heat every chance they get after their disappointing finish in the 2013 NBA Finals.
In today’s loss, the biggest story line is once again the play of four-time MVP LeBron James. Following his incredible 61 point performance against the Charlotte Bobcats, he has cooled off in production and efficiency. James is averaging 27 ppg while shooting a ridiculous 57% from the field on the season, but let’s take a look at his numbers over the last three games:
22 points, 9-18 FG (50%) vs Rockets
19 points, 6-18 FG (33%) vs Spurs
17 points, 8-23 FG (35%) vs Bulls
Once again, all three of these games have been on the road against legit playoff threats. Every team they face give James and the Heat their A-game, and this is one of the toughest three game stretches over a five-day span in the entire league. But there is no time for excuses, especially when we know the mission James is on as he attempts to steal the MVP trophy away from Kevin Durant. This rough stretch for James will definitely be taken into consideration when the time for MVP voting arrives.
The Bulls improve to 35-28 and the Heat fall to 43-17. The Bulls currently sit at the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, while the Heat are 2 games behind the Indiana Pacers for the top spot in the East. The Heat are right back at it tomorrow night against the Washington Wizards in Miami, and the Bulls will face the San Antonio Spurs in Chicago on Tuesday night.
-Patrick Hazel (@pattywack25)