Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 1/4/13
Game time: 8:00 p.m. ETTV: ESPN Nothing has come easy lately for the Miami Heat, and matchups with the Chicago Bulls have been very tough regardless of whether Derrick Rose plays. This one could be particularly difficult if LeBron James isn't at full strength. A matchup of the last two league MVPs won't happen because Rose remains sidelined, and there's a chance James won't take the court as the Heat and Bulls renew their rivalry Friday night in Miami. Chicago edged the Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference last season, but Rose's torn ACL in the playoffs led to the Bulls' first-round departure while James went on to capture his first NBA title. Now both stars could miss the teams' first meeting of the season, with multiple reports indicating James sat out Thursday's practice with a bruised right knee but hopes to play Friday. While James has played in every game this season, the Heat are 2-5 without him since the reigning MVP joined the team in 2010-11. Two of those losses came against the Bulls, who have won five of the last seven regular-season meetings. Five of those games were decided by four points or less and another went to overtime. Despite Rose missing two games due to injuries and finishing with two points on 1-of-13 shooting in another, the Bulls earned a split of the four games against Miami last season. Chicago (17-13) might be catching the Heat at the right time Friday. Miami (22-8) has struggled a bit since winning six straight games by an average of 15.2 points from Dec. 15-26. The Heat lost at Detroit and Milwaukee on consecutive nights by a combined 29 points before needing overtime to beat sub-.500 teams Orlando and Dallas this week. After escaping Orlando with a 112-110 victory Monday, Miami came from six points down in the final 3:02 of regulation to force overtime against Dallas on Wednesday en route to a 119-109 win. James averaged 34.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists in those two games. The Heat narrowly improved to a conference-best 15-2 at home Wednesday. "We're not that dominant where we can come in and blow every team out," said Dwyane Wade, who had 27 points and 10 rebounds. While James averaged 31.8 points versus the Bulls last season, Wade has had a tough time lately when they come to Miami. Since scoring 48 points against Chicago on March 9, 2009, Wade has averaged 18.7 while shooting 37.8 percent from the field - 1 of 9 from 3-point range - in seven home games in the series including playoffs. The Heat, the East's highest-scoring team at 103.6 per game, are 19-1 with 10 straight victories when scoring more than 100. They're 3-7 when scoring 100 or less. That could be a key against a Chicago team that has allowed an average of 87.3 points in three games since giving up a season-high 120 in a loss to Houston on Christmas Day. The Bulls had lost three of four entering their two-game trip to Florida, which began with a 96-94 victory over short-handed Orlando on Wednesday night. "It was better, but it's not what it needs to be," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We had good offensive energy, and not the necessary defensive energy." Carlos Boozer has played better lately, finishing with a season-high 31 points and 11 rebounds against the Magic. While Boozer has averaged 21.7 points and 12.3 boards in his last three games, he's scored more than 10 only once in his last five versus the Heat. The Bulls are expected to have center Joakim Noah back in the lineup after missing Wednesday's contest because of flu-like symptoms.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Patriots waive Montee Ball despite never officially re-signing running back

Chicago White Sox: Impact of Mat Latos signing

Clippers suspend Blake Griffin four games

St. Louis mayor says city is moving on from NFL

Report: Hawks could entertain trading core players at deadline

Arthur Blank diagnosed with prostate cancer


Browns deny coverup of Manziel showing up drunk at practice

Jimmy Butler will miss 3-4 weeks with knee strain

Phil Jackson justifies firing Fisher with psychology lesson

Emmitt Smith takes shot at Colin Kaepernick

Eli Manning explains why he made face during Super Bowl

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

B.J. Penn announces he will return at UFC 197

Bring back the Dunk Contest

Michael Jordan’s rep comments on the crying meme

10 NBA teams that could be active at the trade deadline

‘The X-Files’ takes a shot at the Philadelphia 76ers

Ranking the top 50 NFL players slated to become free agents

Jay Williams advocates for pot as painkiller for athletes

Photographer uninjured in SB collision with Corey Brown

Did Messi outbid Ronaldo for most expensive car?

Newton erotic novella ‘Dabbin’ with Cam’ released on Amazon

In Inglewood, representation by NFL may come with taxation

Mets will be present for two Royals’ WS ceremonies

Best and worst free agent signings of 2016 MLB offseason

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker