(World Wide Gamble) - The Miami Heat
will try to build on their two-game winning streak Friday night when the defending champs welcome the Chicago Bulls
to AmeicanAirlines Arena.
The Heat have pulled out back-to-back overtime victories, first in Orlando on New Year's Eve, then a 119-109 win on Wednesday at home against the Dallas Mavericks.
Miami has won eight of its last 10 games and it's no coincidence that the two losses were the only two occasions in the last 10 the Heat failed to reach 100 points. The Heat have scored 100 points in 15 of 17 home games this season, averaging 107.1 ppg.
It will be a classic offense vs. defense game on Friday night. The Heat rank fourth in scoring in the league, while the Bulls are third in opponents' scoring.
"It's going to be a challenge offensively for us, going against such a really good defense," LeBron James said after practice on Thursday. "Patience is very important. They try to corral you on the sidelines and put a lot of pressure on the ball."
James was outstanding against the Mavericks. He netted a game-high 32 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, handed out nine assists and recorded three steals and a block.
"I'm playing good basketball," admitted James. "Am I at my highest peak? I don't know. I'm working on my game each and every day."
Dwyane Wade had 27 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. Chris Bosh chipped in 17 points and Ray Allen added 15 off the bench.
The Bulls have won two of their last three, including a 96-94 nail-biter Wednesday in Orlando against the Magic. With starting center Joakim Noah sidelined with the flu, the rest of the starting front line was awesome on Wednesday.
Carlos Boozer scored 31 points and pulled down 11 boards, while Taj Gibson, who started in place of Noah against the Magic, had 21 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. The third member of the frontcourt, Luol Deng, chipped in 23 points.
Boozer and Deng both played over 39 minutes against the Magic. That's nothing new for Deng, the NBA's leader in minutes played, but Gibson logged almost 45 minutes.
Will the Bulls be rested enough to face the reigning champs?
"They're the champs," said Boozer. "Anytime you get a chance to play against the champs, you look forward to matchups like that. You get a chance to test how good your team is against someone like that. They're the champs and we look forward to playing them."
Noah is expected back on Friday night and former MVP Derrick Rose, who is still rehabbing his knee injury, is expected to travel with the team.
The two Eastern Conference powerhouses split last season's four matchups.