The Miami Heat will begin their second straight title defense on Tuesday evening as they take on the Chicago Bulls at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. The last two league MVPs, LeBron James and Chicago’s Derrick Rose will go head to head in what should be an exciting game to start the season. Rose had his 2012-13 campaign taken away from him due to a knee injury. Meanwhile, James racked up consecutive NBA MVP awards in the regular season and the NBA Finals en route to back-to-back championships. The Heat will also receive their championship rings before tonight’s game.It should be a very cheerful night for the fans on South Beach as they get to see the team for the first time since they captured Game 7 in last year’s Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.
The NBA schedulers picked two of the entertaining teams in the league for the NBA Tip-Off and it comes with an interesting storyline. The Bulls’ Rose made a comment over the summer when asked who the best player in the league is and he responded with “Derrick Rose.” Some media and fans alike were taken aback by that comment especially at the rate that James has been playing the past two seasons. Rose has not played a minute since the Heat won consecutive world championships with James winning multiple MVP awards and adding new facets to his game. James is clearly the force to be reckoned with and his career numbers nearing 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists speak volumes for a player that has improved his efficiency on the court the past two seasons.
Rose tore his ACL in the final minutes of a playoff game against Philadelphia in 2012 and has not been seen in a game since. The Bulls proceeded to secure the fifth seed in the East and find a spot in the postseason. They took out the Brooklyn Nets in seven games before the Heat disposed of the Bulls in five games.
As Rose makes his much anticipated return, his averages 22 points and eight assists during the 2011-12 season will be welcomed back to the starting lineup. The Bulls can compete with Miami and he could have been the missing piece during last year’s playoff stretch when the Bulls lost in the second round to the Heat. With every team at 0-0, the Bulls have an ex-factor that no one has seen in over a year and could create some matchup problems if he is finding his groove at any time.
Miami may have other plans heading into the first game of the season. They know they have a bulls-eye on their backs because they are the champions and everyone will be gunning for them. James, Chris Bosh and a finally healthy Dwyane Wade will have to put forth a complete effort against a very defensive minded team, even more so than the Heat. Expect Miami to push the pace and keep Chicago on their heels with their defense as well. The Heat will not back down from the Bulls and their physical style of play as evidenced from the postseason meeting (ask Nazr Mohammed).
James and company have their first true test in Game 1 of the 2013-14 season and though nerves may get in the way, this is nothing new for the Heat as they have played many tough games over the past three seasons and are looking to become the first team since the Boston Celtics from 1984-87 to make four straight NBA Finals appearances.
Having a game with league powerhouses to kick off the NBA season will be a great way to get fans and the media prepared for what could be one of the most interesting seasons to recent memory with the storylines, player movement and coaching changes in the offseason.
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