Miami’s struggles continue

Miami Heat’s LeBron James (L) defends against the Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose during fourth quarter NBA basketball action in Miami, Florida March 6, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

The Miami Heat are in the midst of an 11-game run against teams with winning records, and so far they’ve dropped the first four. On Sunday, they lost to the Bulls 87-86, even though LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 69 points on 53% shooting from the field.

Derrick Rose staked his claim to be the league’s MVP (once again) with a 27-point, five-assist performance, leading the Bulls to a 3-0 season sweep against the Heat. Carlos Boozer struggled to 12 points and 10 boards, but Luol Deng had a very nice game with 18 points.

I think Chicago has established itself as at least the second-best team in the East. The Bulls’ defense is outstanding thanks to the arrival of longtime Celtics’ assistant Tom Thibodeau, and offensively, everything runs through Rose. They look like they know what they’re doing while Miami sometimes look confused and out of sorts.

The win is big for Chicago because neither team wants to play the Knicks in the first round. New York will likely finish in the #6 spot, which means whoever finishes #3 has to face the dangerous combination of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups. The Bulls are now two games ahead of the Heat in the loss column and hold the tiebraker, so they’re likely to face the Sixers in the first round, not the Knicks.

If the Heat have to face the Knicks in the first round and the Bulls in the semis, forget about making the Finals, they may have a tough time even winning a series or two.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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