Read our Miami Heat season preview here
Read our Chicago Bulls season preview here.
The 2013-14 NBA season starts with a bang, as one of Thursday’s three games (Australia time) features the two-time defending champion Miami Heat and a resurgent Chicago Bulls team that will at last play with their MVP after taking a year off.
The Heat have probably the most lethal threesome in reigning MVP LeBron James, nine-time All-Star Dwyane Wade and eight-time All-Star Chris Bosh. The team is leaner and meaner after letting go of Michael Beasley and Mike Miller in the offseason, and the playing time will now mostly revolve around the Big Three.
Miami also has a steady supporting cast that provided just enough firepower and hustle to help the team secure their second NBA title in as many years. Players such as Mario Chalmers are an integral part of the rotation, Ray Allen is one of the best pure shooters in the league, and Chris Andersen brings instant energy whenever he’s on the floor. In 2013, the Heat faced the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, winning in five games.
The Chicago Bulls they will face on Oct 29, though, will not be the same team they dominated in the 2013 Playoffs. Despite missing 2010-11 MVP Derrick Rose due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the Bulls still managed a 45-37 record, good for fifth in the Eastern Conference. Led by Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, the last two being double-double machines, stunned the fourth-seeded Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs before getting steamrolled by Miami in the second round.
Even though the Bulls let go of Italian shooter Marco Belinelli in the off-season, they also got forward Mike Dunleavy who is projected to contribute the majority of his points from the outside. Third-year forward Jimmy Butler is also expected to continue his career trajectory after averaging 40.8 minutes per game in the 2012-13 playoffs.
Derrick Rose is ready and raring to go after taking more than a year off to recover. He top-scored for four of the Bulls’ preseason games, averaging 26 points in those matches.
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