The Miami Heat are still alive in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, defeating the Chicago Bulls 83-72 on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Just one week after falling apart in overtime in Chicago, the Heat came back and clamped down on the defensive end, holding the Bulls to a season-low 72 points. The Heat still have a chance at first place in the conference, if they win out over the final week of the season and the Bulls lose to a divisional opponent.
While the Bulls rested the banged-up Derrick Rose, Erik Spoelstra decided to play Dwyane Wade and get the All-Star guard some run against the Eastern Conference's best team. Wade contributed 18 points and five assists, but it was LeBron James who continued his dominant play of late. James scored a game-high 27 points, but also grabbed 11 rebounds and dished six assists to continue his drive for the NBA's MVP.
As a team, it certainly wasn't Miami's best offensive performance but they went to work on the other end of the floor. Chicago shot just 36 percent from the floor, and only 13 percent from behind the arc. They had only three players in double figures, and Joakim Noah was the only Bull to get any offensive rhythm going, and that was mostly with work done down low out of the offense. While the Bulls didn't play with the league MVP, they've still been the a great team and had a ton of success without him -- including last week's win over Miami, when Rose barely played.
The Heat now host the lowly Wizards in Miami on Saturday night. Washington caught this same Chicago team off-guard this week and beat the Bulls on their home floor, so while it certainly won't be the toughest test, they can't expect a total walkover.
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