MIAMI (Sporting Alert) — After sweeping their last opponents and getting well deserved rest, the Miami Heat take on the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the NBA playoff on Monday night.
Miami easily swept aside the Milwaukee Bucks 4-0 in their Eastern Conference first round series and will start favourites to beat an injury hit Bulls side which battle all the way to their lengthy series with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Heat, led by the league’s MVP LeBron James, is loaded with talents, but the defending champions are not getting carried away.
“Them being the Bulls is enough. Heat-Bulls, I think that’s enough to really get your minds going and have some passion for the series,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said.
“I mean, it’s the second round. We have some major accomplishments we’re trying to get to and they’re a good, tough basketball team.
“I think given our history before, that’s enough to lace ’em up and get going.”
But while Miami is loaded with all its superstars, the Chicago Bulls will be without several of its key players, including point guard Kirk Hinrich, who misses his third successive game with a calf injury and Luol Deng (illness) who was ruled out of the contest from Sunday.
Deng also missed the last two games against the Nets in the last series.
”We know how good Miami is,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ”We’re going to have to be at our best, or playing great basketball.
“They’re a very deep team, extremely well-coached, very well-balanced. So we’re going to have to be at our best, right from the start.”
There are still questions over whether Bulls point guard Derrick Rose will actually play in this series, but Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said his team will prepare to play their own game, playing against him or not.
”We’re preparing to make sure that we play our game, in our building,” Spoelstra said.
”We haven’t played in a week and we understand that. We’ve been working hard this week. Our guys are looking forward to getting out there and competing. So let’s tip this thing up.”