(Sports Network) - The Miami Heat have been idle for more than a week, but
they'll need to get back to business, starting Monday night when they take on
the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Heat finished a sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round eight days
ago, while the Bulls took a decisive Game 7 against the Brooklyn Nets on
"We want to get back at it," said Miami's LeBron James, who was a near
unanimous choice as the league MVP for a fourth time.. "We're looking forward
to Monday night's game."
While this matchup won't be confused with the New York Yankees and Boston Red
Sox, the Heat and Bulls have built something of a rivalry this season.
The Bulls ended the Heat's 27-game winning streak, which was the second-
longest in NBA history. After the setback, James bemoaned the pounding he took
from the Bulls, especially two specific fouls, one from Kirk Hinrich and one
from Taj Gibson.
"Those are not basketball plays and it's been happening all year," James said
after the loss. "I've been able to keep my cool and try to tell Spo (head
coach Erik Spoelstra), 'Let's not worry about it too much,' but it is getting
to me a little bit."
James shook it off en route to another MVP, the best record in the league and
a sweep in round one.
The Heat hope the week of rest allowed them to get healthy. Dwyane Wade didn't
play in the series clincher against Milwaukee with a bruised knee. He is
expected to be ready.
Chicago isn't really interested in hearing about injury problems.
On top of missing former MVP Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich didn't play in the
final three games of the Nets series. Luol Deng missed the final two games.
"We've dealt with adversity all year. Our team has the belief that we can win
every night," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "We've been short-handed and
guys have stepped up."
First among them has been Joakim Noah. Battling plantar fascitis, Noah has
been a warrior this postseason and registered a double-double in the series
"Before this series I did not know if I was going to be able to play," said
Noah. "I could barely walk. To be in this situation now and win a Game 7 like
this in front of my family in Brooklyn. I'll remember this for the rest of my
Now, Noah and the Bulls will be decided underdogs against the defending NBA
"That's our rivalry," said Chicago forward Taj Gibson. "Words can't express
how bad we want to beat them."
Since the 2005-06 season, these two sides have met in the playoffs three
times. The Heat won in 2006 and 2011, but Chicago swept the Heat in 2007.
These teams split the four regular-season matchups, each team winning one game
on the road. Miami has won five of its last six and 10 of its last 12 against
the Bulls at home.
The Sports Network