Slumping And Broken, Heat Try To Rebound Vs. Bulls


Game preview for the Miami Heat vs the Chicago Bulls

Heat (23-21) vs Bulls (25-18)
Where: United Center – Chicago, Illinois
When: Monday, Jan. 25, 8:00 PM ET
Watch: CSNC, FS-SUN, NBA League Pass

The traveling medical ward that is the Miami Heat make their first trip to the Windy City of the season for an Eastern Conference showdown with the Chicago Bulls.

If you’re a healthy body, the Heat could use your services, as several rotation players have been out of the lineup due to injuries. Goran Dragic (calf), Hassan Whiteside (hip), Chris Andersen (knee), and Josh McRoberts (being Josh McRoberts) are all out for Monday’s game, while Dwyane Wade (shoulders) and Gerald Green (knee) are playing through injuries of their own.

The Heat, losers of their last four games, look to finally get on track as they play their third game on the current five game road trip. The good news for Miami is that they should be getting back Beno Udrih (neck) and Luol Deng (eye) into the starting lineup, as the Heat have been devastated by injuries over the last two weeks. The current losing streak has helped drop the Heat to the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Considering that they’ve been without several rotation players, they only sit a half game behind the Celtics for the fifth spot, because the East.

The bad news is they face a Bulls team that just secured a double-digit victory in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. While the victory on Saturday looks good for the Bulls, they are only winners of four of their last ten games, with a -5 overall rating over the course of 100 possessions. Even with that rough stretch, the Bulls are currently third in the Eastern Conference.

Matchup to Watch: Jimmy Butler vs. Justise Winslow

“It’s like looking in a mirror, only not.” Castor Troy, as Sean Archer – Face/Off

(I love that movie.)

Heat fans have hopes that Winslow can develop his offensive game in the same mold as Butler has over the last couple of years, so this matchup has a little intrigue to it.  Butler, who is averaging 22.5 points per game, on 45% shooting, has come into his own as a two-way player, while becoming the Bulls best player on offense, so putting the Heat’s best defender on him seems logical. While it’s unknown if Winslow will get the start, he’ll more than likely see the lion’s share of the work on Butler.

X-Factor: Beno Udrih

Last we saw Udrih, he had dished out 11 assists without a turnover in a win at Denver. He then missed the following four games with a neck injury, and the Heat’s offense has gone in the toilet, scoring over 85 points just once in that span. His return will send Tyler Johnson back to his spot as the backup combo guard and allow someone with a point guard skill-set to handle the reins.

Key Stats: 91.9

That’s the Heat’s points scored per 100 possessions over the last six games that Dragic has missed, with Miami losing five of those six. While he won’t be back for Monday’s game, his importance on the court can’t be questioned. Udrih’s return should stop some of the bleeding, as they’ve lacked a true point guard. But the Heat have to be hoping Dragic does return, as rumored, for Friday’s game in Milwaukee.